ó When Alpa Patelís grandfather was diagnosed with cancer,
he seemed healthy: The 64-year-old had been training for a
triathlon when doctors found a lemon-size tumor in his brain.
He died almost a year to the day from when he was diagnosed.
only a teenager at the time in Daytona Beach, Fla., said that
experience "really got me to thinking what causes most
became an epidemiologist and is now the principal investigator
ó and one of the participants ó in the American Cancer
Societyís third generation study on cancer prevention, which
researchers hope will help them solve one of medicineís most
perplexing puzzles: why some people never get cancer.
part in the study, a person must be 30 to 65 and never have
had cancer. Participants fill out comprehensive surveys about
their health and habits and give blood samples and waist
measurements. Researchers will track participantsí progress
over the years, sending short follow-up surveys every two
years or so that can be filled out at home in about 15 to 20
American Cancer Society has already enrolled 200,000 people
and hopes to find 100,000 more people nationwide.
BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)
in Chicagoís western suburbs began Thursday and runs until
April 26. Enrollment will take place in Springfield in May, in
Chicagoís north suburbs in June and in Chicago in August.
cancer society started tracking cancer-free participants in
its first study in the 1950s, a cancer diagnosis was
"like a death sentence," Patel said. But that study,
by following participants over the years, established the link
between smoking and lung cancer ó a no-brainer today, but
groundbreaking research at the time, Patel said.
from the second study, which started in the 1980s, helped link
obesity with increased cancer risk.
one area upon which researchers are hoping to expand with new
data from todayís participants, whose health will be tracked
for at least the next 20 years, Patel said.
havenít really studied people who have been very heavy their
entire lives, which wasnít the case in previous
generations," said Lauren Teras, an epidemiologist at the
36, who has enrolled in the study along with several of her
cancer-free family members, also intends to focus on what
happens to people living in a more sedentary society.
people are in their cars, in front of an iPad, at their desk
in front of a computer all day," Teras said. She hopes to
explore whether increased sitting time has adverse health
effects even for people who exercise regularly, Teras said.
research question wasnít the point of focus in generations
past, when Frances Kentís parents took part in the first
study in the 1950s. Kent, 62, of Chicagoís North Shore, said
her parents "were always active physically."
have since passed away, but Kentís mother never had cancer.
She died at 85 simply of "old age, didnít have any
particular disease," Kent said. Her father had prostate
cancer, but only in his late 70s, and "he was never in
the hospital or getting chemo or all that." He died of
Alzheimerís disease and pneumonia at 86.
always watched things that we know now are not so good for us
ó salt, they didnít eat red meat. They kept their diet
simpler, like vegetables, rice, grains and nuts," Kent
oldest sister passed away at 47 of colon cancer, a motivating
factor for Kent, who remains cancer-free and intends on
enrolling in this generationís cancer study.
think itís so important to participate because it gives (the
researchers) patterns," Kent said. "It gives them
information to press for a cure."
INFORMATION ON CANCER STUDY
information, and to enroll in the study, you can go to
cancer.org/cps3 or call 888-604-5888. Organizers suggest
scheduling an appointment to avoid waiting but said that
walk-ins are possible.