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Historic cancer research hopes to uncover roots of problem

In the quest to prevent malignancies, the American Cancer Society began the Cancer Prevention Study-3, a long-term population study aimed at increasing understanding about how malignancies develop. The study kicked off in 2006, and recently Florida nurses and nursing students have stepped up efforts to educate people and pique their interest in enrolling in the historic research project.

“This study is looking at lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer,” said Phyllis Teitelbaum, RN, a cancer resource nurse at Baptist Hospital of Miami, part of Baptist Health South Florida. “When you see the impact cancer has on patients and family, anything that would help to make cancer a thing of the past, possibly for our grandchildren, is something we wanted to be involved with.”

Marsha Richardson, RN

Nurses and other Baptist staff recruited and enrolled 104 people at a March Relay for Life event.

Florida State University senior nursing student Kelley Kilpatrick chaired the Tallahassee school’s CPS-3 effort and helped to enroll 39 people at an April Relay for Life event. She also estimates talking with up to 2,000 people since last fall about the study, as well as giving television and radio interviews.

“I hate cancer, and it needs to stop,” Kilpatrick said. “I was glad to be part of it.”

Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Fla., continues to register individuals to take part in the study during open enrollment processes. The hospital aims to recruit 200 and to date 179 people have signed up.

Hope floats in the lake in front of Baptist Hospital of Miami during the American Cancer Society East Kendall Relay for Life on March 24. Five thousand people participated in the event that raised $245,000 for the society’s research, education and patient services. At the event, more than 100 people volunteered to join the ACS Cancer Prevention Study-3.

“It allows our community and the people in Central Florida to participate, so the quality of the information means more,” said Marsha Richardson, RN, MSN, OCN, CBCN, a clinical nurse specialist and oncology program coordinator at Parrish.

The ACS plans to enroll at least 300,000 people, ages 30-65 years, with no personal history of cancer. Most registrations have taken place in the past year at Relay for Life events, but now the organization is reaching out to health facilities to enroll staff and community members. Lauren Teras, PhD, a co-investigator on CPS-3 and a senior epidemiologist at the ACS in Atlanta, calls participating a relatively easy way for people “to contribute to cancer prevention and possibly make a huge impact about what we know about cancer for the next generation.”

Participants fill out a health survey and provide a blood sample. About every three years for the next 20 years, researchers will contact enrollees by mail with new health surveys. They also will update participants about results from the study.

“We plan to follow the population in time and observe how they live, their behaviors and exposures, and whether those things are related to a higher or lower risk of developing cancer and other diseases,” Teras said.

Researchers have begun looking into associations between weight gain and geographic factors and others are investigating addiction genes and smoking. However, Teras says it will be several years before the team can begin evaluating how genetics, environment, hormones and other factors may be associated with cancer development.

“We are poised to study so many things, and over time as we collect more information from participants, the richness of the study grows,” Teras said.

This is the fourth cancer prevention study the organization has undertaken. The first, which began in 1952, identified the link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer and premature death. Additional studies took place in 1959 and 1982. The society continues studying participants in the latter cohort.

Teras hopes the current study of cancer incidence will expand on the knowledge scientists already possess about risk factors, such as obesity and breast cancer and whether losing weight can reduce risk or whether a lifetime of being overweight is of greater concern than gaining pounds in later life.

Richardson hopes the study leads to answers about cancer’s causes. “I would love to have to have another specialty and not be an oncology clinical nurse specialist,” she said. “I don’t see that coming, but to prevent as much as possible, this is an opportunity to do it.” •

To find out more about the study, visit

By | 2020-04-15T09:56:41-04:00 May 1st, 2012|Categories: Regional, South|0 Comments

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