Steve Capps didn’t mind rolling up his sleeve Tuesday and giving a little blood if it could help provide clues as to how and why cancer forms.
“I realized that in the last two years of my life I’ve had four to five close friends who were touched by cancer, including my aunt who passed away two years ago,” said Capps, 43. “I just thought I could do something, anything, to help.”
He is among an expected 500 from the Augusta area who will enroll in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3.
“Five hundred is a really good number,” said Kanika Whipple, the state event manager for the study. “It’s wonderful so many people want to help.”
Nationwide, the hope is to enroll 300,000 people by the end of the year and follow them for the next 20 to 30 years with surveys.
The hope is to better unravel how different factors might lead to cancer, said Dr. Samir N. Khleif, the director of the Georgia Health Sciences University Cancer Center.
“There are not too many environmental factors that we know that cause cancer,” he said. “There must be some others and we’re discovering them as we go. But that intricate interaction between the environment, lifestyle and genetic susceptibility might be clarified through such an important study. This would be very, very important.”
The first Cancer Prevention Study, which started enrolling in 1959 and included 1 million people, established a clear link between smoking and lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The second Cancer Prevention Study, which started in 1982 and eventually included a nutritional survey and blood work, established links between obesity and aggressive prostate cancer, in addition to pointing to genes that conferred great susceptibility to breast cancer and prostate cancer.
The current study might help answer questions such as whether certain diets might help prevent cancer, Khleif said.
“Lifestyle and interaction with the environment might be very important,” he said. “Obesity is becoming very important and relative to multiple diseases, including cancer.”
They are questions that are relative to all age groups now, Capps said.
“I’ve had friends from college that are battling it now,” he said. “It’s not just an old people’s disease any more. It’s an every person’s disease.”