American Cancer Society seeks participants from mid-Missouri for study

Friday, August 9, 2013 | 4:24 p.m. CDT; updated 7:19 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 9, 2013

COLUMBIA — University Hospital and the American Cancer Society are teaming up to learn the best ways to beat cancer.

The Ellis Fischel Cancer Center has been selected as mid-Missouri's enrollment location for a massive cancer prevention study. The American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study-3, the third such study the cancer society has undertaken, is searching for 300,000 people across the United States and Puerto Rico that are willing to be monitored in an effort to determine which lifestyle choices might contribute to causing cancer.

Kathy Windmoeller is both a retired pathologist and breast cancer survivor, so she knows exactly how vital this study is.

"As a cancer survivor I can tell you the importance of research cannot be over-estimated," Windmoeller said. "This study can and will be so important to your children, your grandchildren and to you."

Friday morning's kick-off news conference for the study featured speakers sharing stories about their battles with cancer. Miss Northwest Missouri Jessica Mejia spoke about how her mother has been battling cervical cancer and her optimism that the study could prevent such frightening diagnoses in the future.

"This is such a wonderful opportunity in history to make that change and find out these new preventative measures," Mejia said. "It's so wonderful to be a part of it and to know that we're not only doing it for ourselves and our families but loved ones everywhere."

The study is looking for a diverse group of men and women ages 30 to 65 with no personal history of cancer, excluding basal or squamous cell skin cancer. These participants will be asked to fill out a questionnaire every few years about their lifestyle, environmental and medical information, the study's website said.

The American Cancer Society is hoping at least 25 percent of the enrollees will be racial minorities to better determine whether risk factors vary across racial and ethnic groups. Officials said it is important to have the study reflect the diversity in the community.

"You want to be as diversified as the community at large, because otherwise you'll have skewed results," Ellis Fischel's executive director David Parker said. 

The study will last more than 20 years so researchers can track long-term results. The American Cancer Society conducted two similar studies previously. Those studies helped support the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, as well as the correlation between larger waist size and increased death rate from cancer, the release stated.

People who are interested in participating in the study should schedule an appointment through the study's enrollment website for Oct. 10, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The official goal for the enrollment is to have 150 people, but the hospital will be able to accommodate more than twice that number if the demand is great enough, Parker said.

Supervising editor is Shaina Cavazos.

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