A week after a local effort to seek volunteers for a nationwide cancer study began, officials are saying the program has seen a tremendous response.
The Cancer Prevention Study-3, which is being headed by the American Cancer Society, aims to identify the ways in which cancer is caused and prevented by following 300,000 people across the country over the next 20 to 30 years.
The American Cancer Society announced Aug. 28 that it would like to see 250 people from Fort Dodge participate in the study.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Randy Kuhlman, chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, listens during a presentation about the Cancer Prevention Study in which area residents will participate.
More than a week after that announcement, Liddy Hora, a hospital representative for the American Cancer Society, said that goal is close to being reached.
"Within a week, we've had 121 people sign up for CPS-3," Hora said Thursday. "That is phenomenal."
Hora spoke to a group of Fort Dodge community members at an invitation-only lunch held at Trinity Regional Medical Center. She said Fort Dodge was selected as one of the participating towns because of how involved the community gets.
"Fort Dodge is always amazing when it comes to rallying to causes that help others," she said. "This is one of those causes."
Hora encouraged those in attendance to not only participate in the study, but also to tell everyone they know about it. They would serve as "community champions" of CPS-3.
"You're that word-of-mouth keeping that buzz going," Hora said. "We know that word-of-mouth has the most powerful effect on participation."
The CPS-3 is open to anyone between the ages of 30 and 65 who has never been diagnosed with cancer - with the exception of two types of skin cancer - and who is willing to commit to the 20- to 30-year project.
Hora said participants will have a one-on-one meeting where they will have their blood drawn, their waist circumference measured and have to take a small survey. They will also be asked to complete another survey online that takes about an hour to complete.
After all the meetings have been completed, Hora said no more face-to-face contact will happen between the American Cancer Society and participants. Instead, every two to three years a survey will be sent out to those involved in the study.
Participation in the survey is free.
Michele Johnson, the care coordinator at Trinity Regional Medical Center, stressed the importance of being a community champion and the work involved.
"Just be a voice for this study," Johnson said. "Our responsibility as champions is to make people aware of this."
Being a champion is not difficult, she said.
"We don't have to record anything, we don't have to take down phone numbers and we don't have to report back to anyone," she said. "All we do is hand them the card and say, 'please consider joining us.'"
Hora said even after 250 people sign up, the American Cancer Society will still accept participants.
"We won't schedule any more sessions," she said, "but we will have more volunteers available, more tables and more phlobotomists (blood technicians)."
They encourage interested people to sign up early so the right amount of volunteers can be scheduled, she said.
To sign up, visit CPS3fortdodge.org and follow the instructions.