The American Cancer Society is asking local residents to get directly involved in the battle against cancer by participating in a research study, and Miss Washington County — Twila Tschan, herself a cancer survivor — is helping to lead the charge.

Tschan, 23, was diagnosed and treated for cancer on a nerve root of her spine, but she is now cancer-free.

“After my diagnosis, I got involved with the American Cancer Society,” Tschan said.

The American Cancer Society is sponsoring “Cancer Prevention Study-3” (CPS-3), which is designed to give scientists a better understanding of cancer causes and prevention. To provide a sample large enough to make the study effective, the American Cancer Society is looking for local men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 with no personal history of cancer to enroll.

Tschan is doing all she can, through interviews, Facebook postings and personal contacts, to encourage as many people as possible to get involved.

“This (CPS-3) is the big push,” Tschan explained. “It boils down to prevention. As much as we hope to find a cure for cancer, the best hope is never to hear those words from a doctor.”

Tschan said she believes it is especially important for Oregonians to sign up for this research program.

“Oregon has one of the highest cancer rates in the country, so Oregonians have the most to gain from this,” she said. “Causes and environmental factors are so important to Oregonians. We really need 300,000 people nationwide to sign up before the end of October.”

Signing up requires a one-time in-person visit to read and sign a consent form, complete a survey, have your waist measured and give a small non-fasting blood sample. Participants will also complete a more detailed survey at home, and then will continue to receive periodic follow-up surveys that researchers will use to look for more clues to cancer’s causes.

Area residents have two convenient options in October to enroll in CPS-3. One will be in Hillsboro, with the other in Sherwood.

For Hillsboro, signups will be Oct. 8-10 at the Civic Center, 150 E. Main, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each day. In Sherwood, signups will take place Oct. 8-9 at the Sherwood YMCA, 23000 S.W. Pacific Highway, from 3 to 6:30 p.m. both days.

“By joining this study, people can literally help us save lives, giving future generations more time with families and friends, more memories, more celebrations, and more birthdays,” said Laura Potter, American Cancer Society vice president.

Researchers will use data from CPS-3 to build on evidence from earlier cancer prevention studies, which began in the 1950s and involved hundreds of thousands of volunteer participants.

“Many individuals diagnosed with cancer struggle to answer the question, ‘What caused my cancer?’ In many cases, we don’t know the answer,” said Alpa V. Patel, Ph.D., principal investigator of CPS-3. “CPS-3 will help us better understand what factors cause cancer, and once we know that, we can be better equipped to prevent cancer.”

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