Penn Researchers Encourage Local Participation in Nationwide Cancer Study
This Sunday, more than 30,000 runners from around the world will gather in the athletic field at Philadelphia’s Central High School to take part in the 32nd annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run, one of the largest ten-mile road races in the United States. This year, the event that takes participants on a course past the varied neighborhoods of Philadelphia will also jump start the enrollment process for a new nationwide cancer prevention study (CPS). In partnership with the American Cancer Society, representatives from Independence Blue Cross and the City of Philadelphia are encouraging all eligible race participants, friends and family to enroll in the study, which aims to help researchers better understand the factors that cause cancer.
The project, Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS 3), will examine the health and wellness of 300,000 individuals across the country from different backgrounds, ethnicities and geographic locations. The third study of its kind, CPS 3 is expected to provide researchers with valuable insight into the genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.
“There are a lot of factors that change over time, so we can’t assume that what we knew 20 years ago is the same today,” said Anil Rustgi, MD, chief of Gastroenterology at the Perelman School of Medicine. “Our environment and lifestyles have changed dramatically in recent decades, and it’s important to understand the role that these changes might play in cancer development.”
“We now know that smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer. We know that obesity is a risk factor for multiple cancers. But we only know that because of CPS 1, and CPS 2. This new study will uncover more risk factors, because we know there are more,” said Carmen Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP, associate professor of Medicine at Penn Medicine.
One of the most important factors for the new study is diversity. Researchers involved with CPS 3 hope to fill a particularly glaring gap by seeking to enroll at least 25 percent of the study’s participants from non-white populations.
“Cancer effects different ethnic groups at a faster pace, and at a much higher rate that what we’ve seen in the general population,” explains Rustgi. “The inclusion of more non-white, ethnically diverse populations is crucial to identifying why that is.”
In addition to studying ethnic and environmental factors that may contribute to overall cancer risk, CPS 3 will also afford researchers to opportunity to take a closer look at the roles new medications might play.
“Since researchers started CPS 2 in 1982, there have been hundreds of new medications introduced to the market that could affect a person’s risk of developing cancer. Unfortunately, we just don’t know what the long-term impacts of those new drugs might be, so that’s another major goal of the study,” said Guerra. “Even though research for CPS 2 is still going on, this new study will allow us to take a look at new factors so we can continue learning more about how to fight these diseases.”
Eligible participants must be between 30 and 65 years of age, with no prior history of cancer. To enroll, participants will be asked to provide a waist measurement, give a small sample of blood, and complete a comprehensive survey online or at the enrollment site. Individuals will then be asked to participate in follow-up surveys every few years for the duration of the study. All survey information will be kept confidential.
Philadelphia is the first city to tie recruitment for the study to a major city-wide event. With a record number of participants this year, race organizers and CPS supporters hope to encourage at least 13,000 attendees to enroll over the course of the weekend. Interested participants can sign up at the Official Race Expo at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday, May 4 from 11am to 6pm, and on Saturday, May 5, from 9am to 5pm. Enrollment will also take place at the race on Sunday, May 6.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to enroll, interested participants can visit the CPS 3 Blue Cross Board Street Run enrollment page, or www.cancer.org/cps3, or call the American Cancer Society toll-free at 1-888-604-5888.