Participants sign up for 20-year cancer study

Posted at: 10/18/2012 12:12 PM
Updated at: 10/18/2012 2:35 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ALBANY - More than 1,000 area residents are expected to enroll in the next few days in a 20-year study taking on cancer.

It’s the continuation of similar undertakings that have helped us understand the disease and reduce our risks of contracting it.

These days we take it as fact, but for many, many years it was disputed that smoking causes lung cancer or that obesity increases your risk of several forms of the disease.

Those connections were scientifically established by long term studies of the type now being launched at Albany Medical Center and throughout the country.

For Heidi Blackwell, taking on cancer is personal.

“And my grandmother died of leukemia -- just too young, too young. My significant other lost his mother to ovarian cancer when she was in her early fifties,” Blackwell said.

You don't have to have to have a close personal tie to a cancer sufferer. They'll be glad to enroll participants whatever their personal connections.

The plan was to sign up 800 at Albany Med Thursday, with additional sign-ups over the next three days at other area locations.

“But because it’s so simple to be part of this, lots of people have decided to enroll,” explained Pamela Sawchuk Brown of Albany Med.

Some basic information and a few measurements are taken and a small amount of blood is drawn. Then from time to time over the next 20 years, follow-up surveys are conducted to maintain a large data base.

“And it takes a look at the lifestyles, environment and behavior factors that may contribute to cancer. So it's of tremendous value in terms of helping us to find a cure and identify those risks associated with the disease” said Diana Martin of the American Cancer Society.

Ultimately the plan is to enroll 300,000 adults nationwide, with sign-ups continuing until the end of next year. Then there will be contact made with the participants every two years for two decades, gathering information for a very good cause.

There is no cost to the participants and information is kept confidential.