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July 31, 2014, 3:38 pm

Health agencies launch cancer prevention study

Mayor Michael Nutter joined members of the American Cancer Society, Independence Blue Cross and the Parks and Recreation Department and other cancer prevention research organizations to promote a new cancer prevention study during a press conference at City Hall Wednesday.

The press conference was called to raise awareness about a new study, CPS III, which will begin enrollment of participants during this year’s Blue Cross Broad Street Run, scheduled for May 4 and 5.

“We want to ensure that we are raising money to provide as much prevention, detection and treatment as possible,” said Nutter during an interview conducted after the press conference. “There’s also a CPS III study, a huge study, 30,000 people [nationwide] and over 1,000 in the Philadelphia area participating in this long term study.”

According to materials distributed by participating organizations, the goal of the new study is to “enroll a diverse group of 300,000 men and women, ages 30-65, who are relatively healthy and are willing to submit to periodic studies and surveys over the course of several decades.

Previous cancer prevention studies are said to have yielded a wealth of valuable information about cancer — which has resulted in practical prevention efforts such as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, the role obesity can play in the development of the disease and how hormones, diet, physical activity, various medications and vitamins may impact cancer risks.

The previous cancer studies had one significant shortfall:

“Prior to this, the recruitment [for cancer studies] has occurred in the suburbs of Philadelphia through the relays of the American Cancer Society,” said Dr. Carmen Guerra, associate professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “That led to a participant pool that hasn’t been representative of inner cities, and therefore less minority enrollment in the study.”

CPS III hopes to fill this gap by seeking to enroll at least 25 percent of the studies participants from non-white populations.

“Now we hope that we will recruit many more under-represented minorities so we can learn from their information and help them prevent cancer in the future,” said Guerra.

The inclusion of more non-white, ethnically diverse populations is crucial, says Dr. Anil Rustgi, chief of the division of Gastroenterology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who specializes in cell and molecular biology.

“Unfortunately, cancer effects different ethnic groups at a faster pace and a much higher rate than seen in the general population,” said Rustgi. “This study would like to identify why that is, and how can we make inroads into that.”

While there is much work to be done by researchers and medical practitioners, Rustgi suggests every person can do their part to prevent cancer.

“I would encourage people to think about cancer, to read about it, to educate each other. It’s very critical that we, as a community, do our absolute best to decrease the incidents of cancer - and certainly the deaths caused by it,” said Rustgi.

“We really have to come together as a community to make advances in prevention, diagnosis and therapy of cancer. Individual efforts are extremely critical.”

“It’s a labor of love on the city’s behalf,” says Jim Marino, race director of the Blue Cross Broad Street Run. “All the neighbors get involved — from Logan to the Temple area community, all of the Avenue of the Arts crew and gospel choirs — it’s a true city event.”

Enrollment for CPS III will begin during the annual Blue Cross Broad Street Run sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Enrollment Expo will be held at Lincoln Financial Field, Friday May 4th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 5th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Over 40,000 runners participate in this event each year. To date, the run has raised more than $1.4 million for cancer research and prevention, and was named the fastest 10-mile course in the nation by Runners World Magazine.

Those interested in interested in enrolling in the study or learning more can visit www.cancer.org/cps3 on the web or call the American Cancer Society at 1-888-604-5888.