Cancer prevention study needs help


Tracy Ridgeway holds a sign with her reason to volunteer for the Cancer Prevention Study-3 during a meeting at the Cancer Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center on Thursday in Gainesville. The meeting helped launch the national Cancer Prevention Study-3 campaign in North Central Florida. The campaign is about getting volunteers to participate in research to help prevent cancer for future generations.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 9:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 9:35 p.m.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Florida, and people in North Central Florida have a 28 percent higher risk of getting the disease than elsewhere in the state, according to data from the National Cancer Institute..

With such daunting statistics, an effort to prevent the disease is underway, and the Cancer Center at North Florida Regional Medical Center is helping to lead that effort.

The Cancer Center is North Central Florida’s host site for a national study by the American Cancer Society focused on preventing cancer. The study, called “Cancer Prevention Study-3,” needs to enroll 300,000 people between ages 30 and 65 by the end of the year. So far, 256,000 people have joined, according to Cara Newby, the area executive director for ACS. Newby spoke at an event at the Cancer Center on Thursday night to celebrate the 45 “champion” study participants, who are charged with enrolling at least 10 other people in the study.

So far, 92 people have enrolled locally — many of them NFRMC hospital staff. The goal is to enroll 350 people total from Gainesville and Ocala.

“We’re living in the middle of cancer hell,” said Mary Hill, an oncology nurse navigator at NFRMC. “So it’s important for us in North Florida because we are affected more than others.”

Study participants can’t have cancer; when they enroll, they have a bit of blood drawn, their measurements taken and fill out a lifestyle survey — all of which takes about a half hour to complete, Hill said.

People can enroll online or by phone, or in person at the Cancer Center on Oct. 24 and Oct. 27.

If the study meets its enrollment and proceeds, it will last 30 years, and participants will be given a survey every couple of years to fill out.

According to Newby, previous ACS studies had findings that resulted in the surgeon general’s warning label linking smoking to lung cancer and second-hand smoke to lung cancer.

Hill added, “The work I do is so powerful. My goal is to be able to prevent cancer in the future.”

Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119, or kristine.crane@gvillesun.com.

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