Cancer society enrolls prevention participants

Cancer Prevention Study-3 lead Kim Witkowsky said most people know someone who has been affected by cancer.

It’s a terrible disease, and the fight can leave not only a patient, but his or her friends and family feeling helpless. The study was a way to help involving little effort and only a few minutes of a participant’s time every two or three years.

“There is something that each one of us that meets the criteria can do,” she said, and many have chosen to honor loved ones who are fighting, have survived or lost their fight with cancer.

This study, the third of its kind, will enroll up to a half million people nationwide between the ages of 30 and 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer, excluding basal and squamous-cell skin cancer.

More than 100 people signed up for Thursday’s enrollment at Station Medical Center. Upon arrival, they were asked to sign a consent form, have their waist circumference measured and give a blood sample to start the process.

They also were given an in-depth survey to fill out regarding topics such as diet, exercise habits, and family and medical history.

Clearfield resident Dave Cuneo said he decided to make the drive to Altoona to enroll because he, like many, has family members battling cancer – but also because he worked in a doctor’s office and said he sees patients fighting the disease every day.

“You see how quickly it comes on,” and especially with breast cancer, Cuneo said.

Cuneo also said he talked with people who participated in past studies and thought he could help. He said he hopes researchers will be able to “find some causes and reasons why cancer presents itself and how it progresses.”

As part of the study, every two or three years participants will receive follow-up surveys to help researchers track their environment, overall health and lifestyle.

Former county commissioner Donna Gority said she decided to enroll after hearing about the study and realizing she fit the criteria.

“Research is very important in … decision-making and education efforts,” and participants’ data may be able to help in early detection and cancer prevention, she said.

As the wife of a five-year colon cancer survivor, with other family members fighting the disease, Gority said the decision to participate was an easy one, and her enrollment appointment lasted less than 45 minutes.

According to an American Cancer Society press release, previous studies including the Hammond-Horn and Cancer Prevention Study-II studies helped confirm the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and the impact of air pollution on heart and lung conditions.

CPS-II is the most recent study; it began in 1982 and is still tracking participants, officials said.

Another enrollment event will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Organizers said they’re optimistic about reaching their goal and said everyone – especially men who meet the criteria – should consider participating.

Witkowsky said the data researchers gain from the study could be invaluable.

“Maybe someday there won’t be cancer anymore,” she said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.