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Pioneer Editorial: Cancer study is historic opportunity

Bemidji area residents will have a notable chance this summer to significantly contribute to cancer research.

We're acquainted with the annual Relay For Life fundraiser that seeks financial donations and pledges to the American Cancer Society and the organization's research funding. This year, the American Cancer Society will partner with the Beltrami County Relay For Life July 23 to enroll as many people as possible in a long-term Cancer Prevention Study-3. Previous studies have proven the link between cigarette smoking, and later, second-hand smoke to cancer. These findings have led many smokers to quit and many potential smokers to avoid picking up the habit. The results of these studies, which started in the 1950s, are also legislation requiring warning labels and numerous smoke-free legislative measures.

The American Cancer Society also has an ongoing study of the connections between obesity and cancer prevalence and the relationship between aspirin use and reduced cancer risk.

CPS-3 will simply follow healthy people ages 30-65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer (except for a couple of types of skin cancer) during the next 20-30 years to track who succumbs to cancer and who doesn't. And to look at trends common to each group.

CPS-3 is an historic study and as exciting a piece of research for participants as well as scientists who will examine the results. The study should give researchers better understanding of the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.

It will be easy to sign up between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the CPS-3 booth at the Relay For Life taking place next month in the Sanford Center. Technicians will take blood samples from the participants, who will fill out a preliminary form. Within the next week or so, participants will receive a longer medical history, behavioral and lifestyle survey in the mail. When they return the survey, they'll be enrolled. After that, they will receive additional surveys every few years to check whether their status has changed. Study organizers estimate that, in total, the surveys will take about eight hours in a lifetime. The American Cancer Society will also send enrollees annual newsletters updating them on the progress of the study.

Beltrami County residents should feel honored to be among the four sites in Minnesota to be tapped for the CPS-3. And volunteers can feel personal pride and a sense of adventure in taking part in meaningful action that might make cancer a disease of the past.