WILKES-BARRE – If you could help create a world with less cancer, would you?
That was a question posed on Tuesday to those who attended an informational meeting on a new nationwide cancer study that's beginning next year.
If you could answer yes, are between 30 and 65 years old and have never had cancer, you're invited to take part in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS3).
It's one of those things where a friend or a family member is diagnosed with cancer and people say, ‘I wish there was something I could do.' Well, this is it, said Jim Mathiesen, cancer society regional director.
Erin Moskel, a society regional health initiatives representative, said everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer, but it took studies that began in the 1950s to prove it.
With the (studies), we're going to look a little deeper. We're trying to look at more factors that may be causes or reasons for cancer, such as lifestyle, environment, genetics. Ultimately, our end goal is to eliminate cancer as a disease, she said.
Enrolling involves completing a consent form and an initial survey, having a waist measurement and allowing a small blood sample to be drawn.
The goal is to enroll at least 300,000 men and women nationwide – at least 500 in Luzerne County – in 2013. Enrollees will receive surveys in the mail to complete every few years over 20 to 30 years.
What we're trying to do is stop cancer in its tracks. We want cancer to become what polio is known as today – a thing of the past, history, and children and grandchildren don't have to worry about it, Moskel said.
Cancer society workers are hoping people will also encourage their family and friends to enroll in the survey. They enlisted WKRZ radio personality Rocky of the Rocky & Lissa Show to help recruit enrollees.
I guess we have a pretty big goal to reach here in Northeast PA, so I'll be flapping my lips on the radio … trying to get people involved and let them know it just takes a few minutes and it could really make a difference in someone's life, Rocky said.
Health Initiatives representative Jennifer Washney, of West Wyoming, said she enrolled in the study because cancer has touched the lives of her family members. Her mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor, one of her brothers has esophageal cancer and another has skin cancer.
I have a 9-year-old daughter. My hope is that we can find a cure so she doesn't have to worry about it, Washney said.
Several guests at the meeting, which the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hosted at their practice facility at the Coal Street Ice Rink, had similar stories.
Ivan Butch Pettit, 48, of Wilkes-Barre, said his grandfather had cancer before he died and his father had prostate cancer. He signed up for the study hoping maybe it can help my grandchildren. Hopefully, it will help pinpoint what in our lives causes or contributes to cancer. Maybe it will help them avert it.
Mary Blizman, 52, of Wilkes-Barre, already registered online and attended the meeting to learn more. I just lost my dad to lung cancer in October and my sister-in-law is a breast cancer survivor. If we can help future generations to not go through this, that would be a good thing that we can do, Blizman said.