Locals wanted for cancer prevention study

cpride@losbanosenterpriseNovember 2, 2013 

Curtis Fournier has kidney and prostate cancer. When he was diagnozed in 2010, doctors gave him two years to live.

Fournier had his right kidney removed in 2011, but the cancer returned18 months later and it had spread.

Fournier and his wife, Teresa, like many others across the country, want to know why cancer is contracted by some people and not others. The Fourniers, who live in Los Banos, are encouraging Merced County residents to participate in an American Cancer Society study.

“What we’re trying to do is get as many people involved from the Los Banos community and Merced as possible. They’re about 200 people short from meeting a goal in this area,” Curtis Fournier said.

The American Cancer Society is enrolling Merced County volunteers in Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS3). To be eligible, residents must be 30 to 65 years old and never have had the disease. Enrollment will take place from 3:30 to 7 p.m Nov. 13 at Castle Family Health Centers, 3605 Hospital Road, Atwater; 6:30 to 10 a.m. Nov. 14 at Mercy Medical Pavilion, 5200 N. Lake Road, Merced; and 8 to 11:30 a.m. Nov. 15 at Golden Valley Health Center, 857 W. Child Ave., Merced.

CPS1, done in the 1950s, linked tobacco use to lung cancer. CPS2, which began in 1982, studied cancer mortality rates. CPS3, which began in 2006, studies behavioral, lifestyle, environmental and genetic causes of cancer.

Dr. Alpa Patel, a researchers in the study, said the goal is to have 300,000 volunteers enrolled nationwide by the end of the year. She said the study will track people for 20 to 30 years, asking them to fill out surveys every two to three years. The surveys involve primarily medical information. Patel said upon enrollment, volunteers will have their measurements taken and be asked to provide blood samples. Volunteers are dropped out of the survey if they contract cancer.

“Our goal is to look at patterns for the disease and medical outcomes. We want to determine the genetic and environmental causes,” Patel said.

Teresa Fournier attended a Relay for Life event in Hanford last month where people were being signed up to participate in CPS3. She said she volunteered and recently received her first survey.

“It was 20 minutes,” she said. “I sat down at my desk and it was multi-choice. I’m healthy, so it was really quick.”

Curtis Fournier said having his wife participate in the survey is another way his family can fight the disease. He appreciates that the possibility to enroll has come to Merced County.

“CPS3, two years ago we found out about it but it was so far away, Los Angeles, San Diego,” he said.

Curtis Fournier, 51, speaks at Relay for Life events across the state. He said he’s found that many people don’t know about the cancer prevention study. He said when people do learn about it, he hopes they participate.

“I don’t think we knew how widespread cancer is in this area. The good news is (that) survival rates are going up. That’s kind of where I’m at. I was told I only have a couple years to live, but I think from the study, new drugs, maybe I can stay alive,” he said.

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