June 17, 2010


Fight cancer in a tangible way

Area residents can enroll in ACS research study

RelayBob Ellis/staff photographer
Cancer survivors begin their march around Davis Field at SUNY Cortland for the 2006 Relay for Life in this June 16 photo. The 2010 Cortland Relay for Life will kick off 7 p.m. Friday at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex. All are welcome. Besides being a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, the Cortland relay is looking for people to enroll in the society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3, to help find out what causes cancer.

Living and Leisure Editor

Cris Denniston said she’s a sitting duck for cancer, so when she saw a tangible way to fight the disease, she took it.
The Virgil woman enrolled in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3 three summers ago. The study looks at the lifestyle choices of people and how they may cause or prevent cancer. Denniston signed on to the long-term study when it was offered at the Ithaca Relay for Life.
Now people in Cortland can also enroll — at Friday’s Relay for Life at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex in Cortland.
People between the ages of 30 to 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer are sought. Those who have had either basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers can also be a part of the study.
Another requirement is that people need to stay in the study for the long term, said Mary Ellen Ensign of Homer. Denniston and Ensign are co-chairs of the CPS-3 Study Committee for the relay and are looking for 190 people to sign up. The study goes on for at least 20 years.
In two previous long term studies like this, researchers saw a link between smoking and cancer and obesity and cancer.
“The purpose of the study is to look at lifestyle choices as well as environmental and gene factors to look at why some people get cancer and some don’t,” said Ensign. “I think it’s really important. It’s going to be looking a little bit deeper into what causes cancer than what we already know.”
Anyone interested needs to come to the sports complex between 6 and 10 p.m. Friday, said Ensign. “The time commitment is 20 to 30 minutes. It consists of a brief written survey, getting a waist measurement, and giving a small blood sample.”
People will take a more complete, more detailed survey at home that asks questions related to medical history, lifestyle and behaviors. Periodically, participants will receive a survey at home to update that information.
“I went through the whole process over there,” said Denniston of the Ithaca relay. “Basically, I just wait for them to send a follow-up survey. I get a newsletter one to two times a year about what’s going on with the survey. ... In general, every two to three years, you get a follow up survey. You sit down with that, fill it out and mail it back.”
ACS officials provide stamped envelopes to make the process easier. Denniston said ACS is starting to offer the survey online, and she is looking forward to having the option to do it that way. “Filling out the survey takes about 20 to 30 minutes maybe. It’s really not bad.”
National ACS officials look at the size of the relay, the number of participants, and number of survivors in choosing Cortland to be a sign-up spot.
“What they tell us, they like to use areas that have higher than normal averages of various types of cancer. We’re higher than normal with lung, prostate and breast cancer,” said Denniston.
“It’s important to me because there’s a history of cancer in my family,” she said. “Research is needed. They keep looking for reasons why people develop cancer ... I think the generation that is growing up now has had more (exposure to) the anti-tobacco campaign. ... But cancer still prevails.”
“This is something I can do. ... If I can help someone by filling out a survey, it’s a pretty easy thing to do,” said Denniston.
“Each relay that is chosen only has it once,” said Ensign. The CPS-3 Study has been offered in Tompkins County and Binghamton. Liverpool and Chenango County are offering it this year, along with Cortland. “It’s likely that this will be the only chance here,” she said.
For more information on CPS-3, see or call 888-604-5888.


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