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500 Washington County enrollees sought for cancer study

It looks to gain information on genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors that cause cancer by studying a sample constituting a diverse population

April 25, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com
  • Rod MacRae, information officer for the Washington County Health Department, speaks Thursday at the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study-3 kickoff event at the Sleep Inn & Suites in Hagerstown.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Seeking 500 Washington County enrollees to participate in a 20- to 30-year study aimed at finding cancer cures, the American Cancer Society on Thursday hosted an enrollment kick off with the plan to start collecting information and local blood samples in July.

The national cancer prevention study, called CPS-3, looks to gain information on genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors that cause cancer by studying a sample constituting a diverse population of 300,000 Americans, according to Cathy Beckley-Thomas, Community Manager of the American Cancer Society’s South Atlantic Division.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Beckley-Thomas said, noting CPS-3, which commenced a few years ago, will stop enrolling participants at this year’s end. “They only do these studies about every 30 years ... if you want to enroll, this is your opportunity, don’t wait.”

The American Cancer Society has a goal of 4,900 Maryland enrollees, with more than 2,500 participants already on board, according to the Gloria Jetter Crockett,  American Cancer Society Maryland state vice-president.

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The county’s enrollment will take place at five sites from July 9 through July 13. Enrollees need not be Washington County residents, but the American Cancer Society asks participants to first sign up for an enrollment appointment via the web site at www.CPS3WashingtonCounty.org, or by calling 1-888-604-5888.

Persons between the ages of 30 and 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer, with the exception of basal or squamous cell skin carcinoma, are eligible to participate, Beckley-Thomas said. Participants must be willing to provide a waist measurement and seven-teaspoon blood sample, in addition to completing a comprehensive survey and subsequent follow-up surveys every few years, she said.

About 20 people were on hand Thursday night at the event, held at the Sleep Inn & Suites in Hagerstown, not only to sign up to participate in the study, but also join as a community volunteer, called “champions,” serving to recruit other participants. 

“Jack, Ed, Anna Mae, Sue and her daughter, Marty, Joe, Paul and Jan,” said Pastor Linda Alessandri of Haven Lutheran Church, which will serve as one of five host sites this summer, noting people in her life who have passed from or are living with cancer as to why she signed on to participate in the study. “Yes, we can end cancer.”

Robin Banfe, of Smithsburg, was in attendance of the event to learn about her role as a “champion,”
“I want to do whatever we have to do to find a cure for cancer,” said Banfe, 40, who has been a nurse since 1997.

Previous American Cancer Society national studies include CPS-1, which linked smoking to lung cancer in the 1950s, and the ongoing CPS-2, which commenced in the 1980s, serving to link obesity to the risk of several cancers.

Samples for both CPS-2 and CPS-3 have been collected from participants in Washington County in past years, Beckley-Thomas said.

Washington County previously has participated in additional cancer-related studies, according to Herald-Mail archives, beginning with research spanning from 1957 to 1962 to determine if environmental causes, primarily radiation, were the root of high cancer rates.

Spearheaded by the late Dr. George W. Comstock, a Smithsburg resident and Johns Hopkins University researcher known internationally for his tuberculosis research and locally as the namesake of the George W. Comstock Center for Public Health Research and Prevention, projects CLUE I and CLUE II were aimed at tracking the causes of cancer, strokes and heart disease.

According to Herald-Mail archives, Comstock was the first donor in both 1974, when 26,000 people in Washington County gave blood samples, and again in 1989, when 33,000 more samples were collected, building a serum bank and establishing a cancer registry.

Rod MacRae, the Washington County Health Department’s Public Information Officer, said cancer is the second-leading cause of death in Washington County, a reflection of both state and national statistics.

More information on the CPS-3

Following is the Washington County CPS-3 enrollment schedule:
Enrollees do not have to be county residents.
Enrollment can be made by appointment, or by going to www.CPS3WashingtonCounty.org.  
Appointments preferred, but walk-ins welcome.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Meritus Medical Center, Robinwood Professional Center, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
11110 Medical Campus Road, Hagerstown

Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Bridge of Life Church, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
14 South Potomac, Hagerstown
Bridge of Life Center

Haven Lutheran Church, 3 to 7 p.m.
1035 Haven Road, Hagerstown,
Gathering Room

Thursday, July 11, 2013
Hancock Town Center, 4 to 8 p.m.
126 W. High Street, Hancock,
Town Hall Community Center

Saturday, July 13, 2013
Family Life Center, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
134 W. Main Street, Boonsboro
Family Life Center Room

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