A local effort to get people signed up for a long-term nationwide cancer study kicked off Tuesday afternoon in Fort Dodge with a presentation by organizers and community organizations devoted to healthy living.
The initiative, known as the Cancer Prevention Study-3, is seeking 250 people from the Fort Dodge area to take part in the project, which intends to learn how lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors cause or prevent cancer.
Liddy Hora, hospital representative for the American Cancer Society, said the goal is to use the findings to help future generations understand how to better treat and prevent cancer.
"Our research program will conduct, analyze and publish original research on the causes and prevention of cancer," Hora said at the kickoff event, which was held at Trinity Regional Medical Center.
Across the nation, Hora said the American Cancer Society, which is heading CSP-3, is seeking 300,000 people to participate. This includes more than 3,600 from Iowa and 250 specifically from the Fort Dodge area.
"We're seeking men and women of different racial and ethnic backgrounds who are between 30 and 65 who have never personally been diagnosed with cancer," she said. "They also must be really willing to make the long-term commitment to the research study," Hora said.
She added that those who have been diagnosed with either basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer will be allowed to participate.
Sue Thompson, president and chief executive officer of UnityPoint Health - Fort Dodge, said the timing of this study is "perfect," since it happens to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the hospital's cancer center opening.
"By participating in CPS-3, we could potentially change the world forever," Thompson said. "It has the potential to change the face of cancer for future generations."
She added that previous studies done by the American Cancer Society have led to the discovery of the link between tobacco use and lung cancer, as well as the connection between air pollution and heart and lung conditions.
Kari Prescott, executive director of Webster County Public Health, said the study will also hopefully determine how different factors can either cause or prevent cancer.
"We know what causes cancer," Prescott said. "The CPS-3 will look at lifestyle choices and how they factor in."
Some questions that hope to be answered include why some people who appear to be healthy end up with cancer.
"This study can have a positive impact on the fight against cancer," she said. "not just in our society, but worldwide."
Matt Hanson, associate director of the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center, said even without a family history of cancer, everybody will be impacted by the disease, whether it's friends, co-workers or acquaintances.
"No matter where you're at, cancer's going to effect you," Hanson said.
Those who are interested in being a part of the study are asked to visit CPS3fortdodge.org and follow the instructions there.
Everybody will need to attend a one-on-one meeting, where they will also get their blood drawn.
Hora said 47 people had already signed up for CPS-3 before the kickoff event Tuesday. She said those who want to participate should sign up early so organizers will know how many phlebotomists - lab specialists who draw blood - will be needed.
The first part of the study will end in December, but Hora said after that point meetings will continue every few years with participants over the next 20 to 30 years.
She added that this is an important initative for those in Fort Dodge to participate in.
"Never in Fort Dodge in our lifetime will we be able to have direct cancer research in the community," Hora said. "We have the opportunity to make a difference. Maybe not in our lives, but definitely in generations to come."