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American Cancer Society seeking Sewickley Valley volunteers for historic study

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The American Cancer Society still is looking for more than 30 people to be part of a historic study at Sewickley Valley YMCA that could help to prevent cancer.

Sharon Stalter, American Cancer Society health initiatives representative for the East Central Division, said as the society celebrates its 100th birthday, it is conducting Cancer Prevention Study-3, or CPS-3, to give scientists a better understanding of cancer causes and prevention.

The society is looking for a thousand Greater Pittsburgh residents — 100 at the Sewickley YMCA — between the ages of 30 and 65 from various racial and ethnic backgrounds with no personal history of cancer to help reach full enrollment of at least 300,000 people nationwide.

Local residents can register for an appointment between 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the YMCA's large gymnasium, the same date as the society's official 100th birthday.

Signing up requires a one-time, 20- to 30-minute visit to read and sign a consent form, complete a survey, have a waist measurement taken and give a small nonfasting blood sample.

Participants also will complete a more detailed survey at home and will continue to receive periodic follow-up surveys every two to three years that researchers will use to look for more clues to cancer's causes.

Stalter said YMCA's across the nation have been participating in the effort. The partnership with the Sewickley YMCA came about partly through a personal connection with executive director Trish Hooper, a board member of American Cancer Society's Greater Pittsburgh Unit.

“The Y is thrilled to be a part of this nationwide study. It's an opportunity for everyone who has been touched by cancer to participate in research that, hopefully, will prevent a loved one in the future from getting a cancer diagnosis. The Y and the American Cancer Society both emphasize prevention, so working together is a natural fit,” Hooper said.

“By having the Sewickley Valley Y as a study site, we hope to make enrolling in the study easier for people in the community. They don't have to go far from home to participate, and many are already familiar with the Y.”

Sewickley Mayor Brian Jeffe also proclaimed the week of May 20 as “Cancer Prevention Week” in recognition and support of the study and to encourage residents to participate.

Stalter said this isn't the first time such a study has been done.

Recruitment began in 2006 at several American Cancer Society Relay For Life events. In 2011, enrollment was broadened to community venues nationwide. This is the final year for CPS-3 enrollment.

Researchers will use data from CPS-3 to build on evidence from earlier cancer prevention studies held in the 1950s and 1980s — including the Hammond-Horn Study involving hundreds of thousands of volunteer participants.

Stalter said more than 450 reports emerged from the studies that have provided insight into the causes of cancer.

A few examples include the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and the impact of air pollution on cardiopulmonary conditions motivating the Environmental Protection Agency to propose more stringent limits on particulate air pollution.

“While the ACS has been conducting these types of studies for decades, the research department only can study new and emerging cancer risks if members of the community are willing to become involved, which is why enrollment in CPS-3 is so vital to research efforts,” Stalter said.

“Changes in lifestyle over the past several decades as well as a better understanding of cancer make this latest chapter in this lifesaving series of studies a critical part of continuing the progress we're seeing against the disease.”

One hundred years ago, the word “cancer” was not spoken, and most patients died, Stalter said.

It all began with a group of physicians and business leaders in New York who knew they had to raise public awareness if progress was to be possible. Their actions initiated the beginnings of the American Cancer Society in 1913.

By joining the latest study, she said, participants can help to finish the fight against cancer to help save lives.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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