What is giving a few drops of blood, if this could lead to the discovery of what prevents cancer?! That’s what the researchers at the American Cancer Society are trying to uncover with the Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS-3). Enrollment for CPS-3 will take place this Saturday (June 23rd) at the Relay for Life of Arcadia at the Santa Anita Racetrack. The CPS-3 tent is only open for four hours – from 12:30PM to 4:30PM – and we hope to enroll over 200 individuals. The only requirement is that participants be between the ages of 30-65, with no personal history of cancer. After filling out a baseline survey, participants will be sent follow-up surveys every few years (for the next 20-30 years), to ask questions about lifestyle, behaviors, and possible change in health outcomes (like cancer).
Prior to CPS-3, there were two previous studies. The original Cancer Prevention Study (CPS-I) was done in the 1950’s and uncovered the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Cancer Prevention Study 2 (CPS-II), recruited volunteers in the 1980’s and is still ongoing. With that study, researchers made several key discoveries*:
- The association between being overweight or obese and more than 10 different types of cancer.
- Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of various types of cancer.
- Post-menopausal hormone use and its association with a higher risk of breast cancer.
- Men and women who consume 3 or more drinks of hard liquor a day were more likely to die of pancreatic cancer compared to those who did not.
(*All info can be found on the CPS-3 website: www.cancer.org/cps3)
At enrollment, you will be asked to fill out some forms, have your waist circumference measured, and provide a small blood sample (7 teaspoons (4 vials) – equivalent to a doctor’s visit). The whole process should take about half an hour. Several days after Relay, you will receive the baseline survey (the envelope you will self-address at enrollment). Complete the baseline survey and return in the envelope provided, and you are enrolled!
With a long-term study like the Cancer Prevention Study 3, researchers look at the study population and compare individuals who develop cancer and who don’t. Was it exposure to environmental factors? What about behaviors (e.g., drinking and smoking) or lifestyle? By looking at all of these factors together, along with the nutrients, proteins, hormones, etc. found in the blood, researchers can get a more complete picture of possible causes and links to cancer.
I know some people are squeamish about having their blood drawn. Before cancer, I never liked having to get stuck by ‘the vampire’ (as my mom likes to call phlebotomists) for blood tests. But after my diagnosis, I had a needle jammed in my vein for several hours – not to get blood drawn, but to have chemo drugs pumped into my body. Do you want your child or loved one to have to endure that? I know that I’d gladly give seven teaspoons of blood if I could prevent that for my two boys. (As a cancer survivor, I am not eligible to participate.)
In the end, if giving a few vials of blood could uncover what causes cancer; so that future generations, never have to worry about cancer, why not do it? As a cancer survivor and mom, I want to see a world free of cancer.
Finally, many times, while I was going through treatment, people would ask what they could do for me. Friends and family would tell me that they felt helpless, and they wished they could do more. Well, here is how they (and you) can help and fight back against cancer. Participate in CPS-3.
Please join me at the CPS-3 tent this Saturday, June 23rd from 12:30-4:30PM, at the Relay for Life of Arcadia at the Santa Anita Racetrack. The 30 minutes of time you spend in the tent, and the information you provide, can help lead us to a world of more birthdays and less cancer!