By Rebecca Rose
Killeen Daily Herald

TEMPLE — For its third long-term cancer prevention study, the American Cancer Society has joined with Scott & White Vasicek Cancer Center to enroll participants next year.

The new study, called Cancer Prevention Study-3, will examine factors, such as lifestyle habits, environmental issues and genetic factors, that can lead to a cancer diagnosis, said Andrejs E. Avots-Avotins, chairman and chief of staff for Scott & White.

“This particular study is focused on prevention, not treatment,” said Avots-Avotins. “(It) provides an important opportunity not just for our patients but for the entire Central Texas community to fight back against cancer.”

At a news conference Tuesday to announce the new study, representatives with the national cancer organization and Scott & White said researchers want to enroll 300,000 adults and track them for a 20-year period, starting in 2012.

Unlike two earlier cancer prevention studies, Dr. Mark Clanton, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society High Plains Division, said the latest one will be different. “We’re going to collect (blood samples) from everybody who participates,” he said. “In an effort to understand how genetics and environment, and behavior and lifestyle interact to cause cancer in the first place.

“We’re going to have an opportunity to enroll many everyday people, not special individuals in terms of being treated for cancer,” Clanton said. “But people who wake up everyday and wonder how their health is going to turn out.”

In 1959, the cancer organization launched its first prevention study, which followed 1 million adults until 1972. That study was instrumental in making the link between lung cancer and tobacco, said Michael Dany, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society High Plains Division, which covers six states, including Texas.

“We followed them and determined what their habits were, what they ate, what kind of exposures they had to certain environments,” he said. “We have had significant information come from that, guiding our prevention and understanding of how to change the course of this disease.”

In 1982, the cancer organization started its second prevention study, recruiting 1.2 million adults. That study, which determined a link between obesity and the risk of cancer occurrence, is ongoing.

Dany said the third study in 2012 will further the cancer organization’s mission to find ways to prevent the disease. “This study is the next step,” he said. “This will be important because not only will it follow behavior, but …we’ll have genetic information.”