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How to help slay a monster: CPS-3

Out of My Head

Posted: March 15, 2008 12:52 a.m.
Updated: May 16, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Do you care about your health? Do you care about the health of your children and generations that follow beyond them?

Are you interested in becoming part of landmark medical research?

Would you like to help doctors better understand cancer, and thereby find superior ways of preventing it?
If your head is shaking "yes" by now - or I have at least piqued some curiosity inside of it - then please read on.

The American Cancer Society's Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research is recruiting 500,000 adults across the United States and Puerto Rico for a new cancer study. Named the Cancer Prevention Study-3, or "CPS-3," the research project is aimed at better identifying the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.

Fortunately for all of us, our valley's 2008 Relay For Life has been chosen as one of the "select" sites for this study. Enrollments in the CPS-3 program will take place on May 31 during Relay, which is being held at Central Park in Saugus.

From 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. that day, Relay's CPS-3 chair Donna Ashmore of the UCLA Santa Clarita Cancer Center will oversee cancer prevention study registration.

Ashmore, a registered nurse who has spent 25 years working locally in oncology, notes that the CPS-3 is a long-term study of about 20-30 years that will ultimately answer questions we all have about cancer, such as "How we can lower our risks?" and "What can we do to help prevent it?"

"We don't know all the answers people have and studies are the way to get those answers," Ashmore said.
Qualifications to enroll in this study include:

• You are between the ages of 30-65, have never been diagnosed with cancer (not including basal or squamous cell skin cancer).

• You are willing to make a commitment to the long-term study program (which following enrollment, simply involves completing periodic two-year follow-up surveys).

During the initial enrollment process, eligible participants will be asked to read and sign a consent form; complete a brief survey; provide a waist measurement, and give a small blood sample (a couple tablespoons is all, and it will be taken by a trained, certified phlebotomist). Later at home, you will complete a more detailed survey asking for information about your lifestyle, behavioral, and other factors that influence your health.

In coming years, you will receive follow-up surveys requesting an update on your information.
It's that easy.

Something else you need to know: As the CPS-3 is not a clinical study, participants will not receive individual blood tests. However, everyone will stay apprised of ongoing research from Cancer Prevention Studies newsletters.


Since the 1950s, ACS research studies have yielded tremendous findings, playing a major role in cancer prevention here in the States and internationally. Those ACS study results have included:

• First to show the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.
• First to show the significant impact of obesity on risk of dying from cancer.
• First to show the link between aspirin use and lower risk of colon cancer.
• The demonstrated impact of physical activity, diet, hormone use, other medications and vitamins, and various other factors in relation to cancer risk.
• The substantial impact of air pollution on heart and lung condition, which motivated the Environmental Protection Agency to propose more stringent limits on air pollution.

Like I said, landmark medical research. And you can be a part of it.

"CPS-3 is a historic opportunity for our community to play a role in helping to prevent cancer, our way of fighting back against the disease," said Candy Spahr, who along with Teresa Kerr and John Forman is tri-chairing this year's Relay For Life.


A mere half-hour is about what that initial CPS-3 sign-up should "cost" you.

That's a small block of time - but a huge investment for the future, Ashmore said.

"People ask me all the time what they can do to help - this is a big one," the veteran oncology professional stated. "We need to look at what causes cancer and what we can do to reduce our risks. We have been playing 'catch-up' with treating the disease and we need to continue to find what we can do to protect ourselves and our families."

Ashmore's passionate about community members signing up for CPS-3.

"There's no reason that in our Santa Clarita Valley Relay For Life we should not be able to enroll at least 500 participants," she said.

"Our valley has always come together for special causes and stepped up to the plate each time. This is a very important plate to step up to."

For more information on the CPS-3 study contact Donna Ashmore at or call the American Cancer Society SCV Unit at (661) 298-0886 option 3. You may also go online to

For more information about Relay For Life (a fun-filled overnight team-walking event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for ACS research and programs) go online to (or call the American Cancer Society SCV Unit).

Diana Sevanian is a Santa Clarita resident and freelance writer. Her column reflects her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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