Frederick County residents will have the opportunity to participate in a historic and potentially life-saving cancer prevention study that researchers hope will help them better understand the deadly disease and its causes.
The American Cancer Society is seeking volunteers for their 20-to 30-year Cancer Prevention Study-3, a nationwide effort that hopes to reduce the number of future incidences of the disease by identifying the risk factors that contribute to its development.
The Frederick County branch of the American Cancer Society has organized a kickoff event to help drive awareness of the study and spur local enrollment today at Monocacy Valley Church in Ijamsville.
“It’s so exciting to be a part of the solution,” Laurie Frey, community manager of the American Cancer Society in Frederick, said Friday. “It’s great that the study is coming to Frederick because this is an opportunity that many places don’t get, and it may not come around in our lifetime again.... I think what we discover is going to be significant.”
The first cancer prevention study was conducted by the health organization in the 1950s. The results showed a link between smoking and lung cancer.
Cancer Prevention Study-2 started in 1982 and is still ongoing, but recent results have shown a link between obesity and increased risk of being diagnosed with the disease, according to a American Cancer Society news release.
Cancer Prevention Study-3 is open to anyone age 30 to 65 who has never been diagnosed with cancer. The study requires 300,000 participants nationwide.
“There are so many cancers that we don’t know the causes of. This is really about identifying risk factors in a large population, so we can identify [ways to] prevent it,” Dr. Mark Soberman, medical director of the Frederick Memorial Hospital Cancer Therapy Center, said Monday. “This is the kind of thing where it may not benefit you or me, but it may benefit our kids.”
Last year, about 800 patients were diagnosed with cancer or had their first course of treatment at the hospital, Soberman said.
About 31,000 people were diagnosed with some form of cancer in Maryland last year, with more than 10,000 dying of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
In Frederick County, 1,035 people were diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2009, the most recent year for results, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Frey said the group is hoping to enroll at least 600 people from the county and surrounding areas in the study.
“[Enrolling] 600 people is great, but I would like it to be 1,000,” she said.
There are already about 2,100 people enrolled in the study from other parts of the state.
Enrollment appointments for the study will be conducted at six different locations in the county from March 19-23, including the Frederick Memorial Hospital Regional Cancer Therapy Center.
During the enrollment appointment, which takes about 30 minutes, participants will be required to give a blood sample, waist measurement and fill out a survey on their family medical history and lifestyle.
Those accepted into the study will be asked to update their surveys every two to three years for the next few decades.
“I think it’s a worthwhile study,” Soberman said.
Frey said she thinks the local enrollment drives will be successful.
“Everybody knows someone that has cancer so I think that it’s personal to a lot of people,” she said.
To make an appointment for the study, go to www.cps3frederickcounty.org.