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Charles County citizens are being offered the opportunity to participate in a study that could save lives.

At the Jaycees center in Waldorf on Tuesday evening, representatives from the American Cancer Society gathered with members of the community to introduce their newest study, Cancer Prevention Study-3, and urge citizens to participate. The ACS hopes to have at least 200 county residents sign up, although they welcome more people.

How to participate

The American Cancer Society will hold two enrollment events in the county.

The Jaycees center will host the first 4-8 p.m. March 19 at the center, 3090 Crain Highway, Waldorf.

Bel Alton High School Community Development Center will host the second 4-8 p.m. March 20 at the high school, 9501 Crain Highway, Bel Alton.

Study participants must be between 30 and 65; have never been diagnosed with cancer, excluding basal or squamous cell skin cancer; and be willing to commit to the study by completing surveys periodically for the next 20 to 30 years.

To schedule your enrollment appointment, go to CPS3charlescounty.org. For more information, go to cancer.org/cps3 or call 888-604-5888.

In her remarks, Liz Davey, the state vice president of the National Capital Area ACS, said Charles County was selected to participate because of its history of involvement with the cause.

“We’ve seen absolutely incredible support from you,” Davey said to applause from event attendees. “Your Relay for Life is one of the most successful in the country consistently from year to year.”

The study calls for participants between 30 and 65 who enroll to have a physical and a blood sample done, and to fill out a survey every other year for the duration of the study.

Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) spoke to the importance of the event and the board’s plan to show its support for cancer research, along with its significance in his personal life.

“As a county, we are extremely honored that the American Cancer Society will be spending time here with our citizens collecting data that in the long run can lead to healthier lives for those who call Charles County home, as well as residents throughout the region and nation,” Robinson said. “Cancer is a scary word. When it is in the abstract, you don’t think about it much. I smoked for almost forty years. Last June, I had a cancer scare and fortunately that is all it was, but between the time of the scare and the actual cancer-free diagnosis, it was all-consuming.”

Robinson went on to issue a proclamation from the county declaring February Cancer Prevention Month in Charles County, the board’s first proclamation of the new year.

Dr. Krishan Mathur, who will be assisting the cancer society in getting community involvement for the study, said that participation was also significant for him on a personal level: Mathur beat colon cancer 25 years ago and thyroid cancer 15 years ago.

“I know in my heart, body and soul what cancer can do,” Mathur said. “It’s the most curable disease in the world. The importance of studies like this is unparalleled.”

County planning commission member and Bel Alton High School Community Development Center Executive Director Joan Jones said she plans to enlist the support of fellow Bel Alton High School volunteers because of the impact cancer research could have for the African-American community.

“We’re pleased to have been chosen as one of the study sites,” Jones said. “We are a resource for the community and have been long-term partners and, in doing so, have promoted the importance of early detection. We will be working tirelessly to make this study a success.”

Bel Alton High School will host the study on-site in March.

Charles County Public Library Director Emily Ferren said she decided to get involved after learning that three of her co-workers had been diagnosed with cancer.

“I kept asking the [Charles County Department of Health] what we could do to help,” Ferren said. “I’m very pleased that the American Cancer Society chose this area, and I’m pleased to help promote this. I want my co-workers to be healthy.”

Past cancer prevention studies conducted by the ACS have discovered the link between smoking and cancer, along with obesity and cancer, event manager Audrey Allen said.

lrenner@somdnews.com