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20,000 volunteers sought for study

| Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The American Cancer Society needs about 20,000 cancer-free people from Westmoreland, Fayette and Cambria counties to participate in a large-scale survey to give scientists a better understanding of causes and prevention.

“We're really looking for a variety of people, a variety of backgrounds,” said Teresa Segelson, senior health initiatives representative with the Westmoreland society office.

The society's Cancer Prevention Study-3, known as CPS-3, is nearing its Dec. 31 deadline to meet a goal of 300,000 participants from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to contribute to the long-term survey that will look at lifestyle, genetics and environmental factors.

The final four local enrollments will be held in early November in Connellsville, Hempfield, Leechburg and Johnstown.

“It's quite a large endeavor,” said Segelson, who is helping with enrollment. “It's the largest study of its kind.”

Segelson said the time commitment is “very minimal.”

“Many individuals diagnosed with cancer struggle to answer the question, ‘What caused my cancer?' In many cases, we don't know the answer,” said Alpa V. Patel, principal investigator of the project. “CPS-3 will help us better understand what factors cause cancer, and once we know that, we can be better equipped to prevent cancer.”

Men and women eligible for enrollment are between 30 and 65 years old and have never been diagnosed with cancer. Anyone who has been diagnosed with basal or squamous cell skin cancer is eligible to enroll, as are those who are within six months of celebrating their 30th birthday or have turned 66 in the last six months.

During a 30- to 45-minute enrollment appointment, potential participants are required to fill out a survey, have their waists measured and give a small, non-fasting blood sample. They will complete a more detailed survey at home. For at least the next 20 years, participants will be required to complete surveys with questions about their lifestyles, jobs and living environment every two years,

Natalie Obradovich of the cancer society said study participants could ultimately help to prevent the disease for future generations.

“It's a really great opportunity to fight back against cancer in your community,” said Obradovich, who is helping with enrollment in Connellsville. “It really is an opportunity for us to better understand some of those factors that cause cancer.”

Based on statistics, the cancer society said that at some point in their lives, some of the participants will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. Segelson said one in three women and one in four men get cancer during their lifespan.

“We want to know what things may play a part in preventing the disease,” Segelson said. “We may find out more answers of things that may help cancer patients. I think it has huge potential.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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