SEBRING - For nearly 60 years, a group of studies sponsored by the American cancer Society have come up with findings that have answered many questions about cancer.
The studies have linked cigarette smoke to lung cancer, showed that second-hand smoke increased mortality and that excess weight and obesity were linked to increased death rates from 10 or more cancer sites, the American Cancer Society States.
The fourth comprehensive study in the series, called The Cancer Prevention Study-3, which was launched in 2006, needs more volunteers to continue.
Thursday, the American Cancer Society made a pitch to the community to attract participants and train its volunteer recruiters, or champions, for the long-standing research effort.
Anastasia Jacobs, the American Cancer Society's CPS-3 state lead person, said they are close to their goal and are doing an extra push for study participants in Highlands County.
Highlands County resident David George is one of the champions who is spreading the word to help reach the Highlands County goal of 100 new participants and the overall national goal of 300,000 participants by December.
George said he has had quite a few friends who have had cancer.
"I have seen people lose their lives and I want to see people survive and live longer and healthier," he said.
The goal of the study is to better understand the factors (lifestyle, environmental, genetic) that cause or prevent cancer and ultimately to help eliminate cancer as a major health concern for future generations, according to the American Cancer Society.
At Azure College Thursday, Highlands Regional Medical Center CEO Brian Hess spoke to a gathering of champions, including George, who will speak to friends, family and coworkers about the study.
He described it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a part of research that may change the course of cancer forever.
"This truly is an exciting opportunity to be a part of research history," Hess said.
American Cancer Society Highlands Unit Chairperson Jean Lund called the effort, "the power of a single individual joining a collective force of change. Imagine being a part of that force whose purpose is to help fight cancers and spare others from the cancer diagnosis."
Those eligible for the study are men and women between the age of 30 and 65 who have no personal history of cancer and are willing to make a long-term commitment.
An enrollment session will be held 4 - 8 p.m., Nov. 14 at the outpatient lab area of Highlands Regional Medical Center.
During the enrollment session, participants will be asked to complete a survey packet and provide a waist circumference measurement and a small blood sample. They will be asked to complete mailed questionnaires every few years to update lifestyle, environment and medical information.
Suzanne Stevens noted that she is a 12-year breast cancer survivor and has been involved in Relay for Life for 12 years.
"So this is very dear to my heart; this study is very important," she said. "I have already given presentations for family, friends and church.
"I think it's crucial for the development of prevention and also to find new medications and new chemotherapy treatments and just treatments in general," Stevens said.
Sue Nardy, who is a Registered Nurse, serves as an unpaid Faith Community Nurse. She works through churches to share information about community resources. She is on the board of the American Cancer Society and a cancer survivor of melanoma.
"All but one person in my family have had some kind of cancer, so I am very motivated to see that this works that they will have a CPS-3 active and continuing," she said.
Jacobs explained: "We are looking at ultimately in how to prevent cancer and it's not just one cancer, it's across the board, it's all the different types of cancer."
The study is funded and managed by the American Cancer Society Department of Epidemiology & surveillance Research.
For more information and to preregister for the enrollment session visit the CPS-3 website at www.cancer.org/cps3. The CPS-3 is the fourth such cohort study by the American Cancer Society. The first study, Hammond-Horn,was conducted from 1952 to 1955. The subsequent studies were CPS-1, CPS-2 and CPS-3.