One long-term study aims to catch cancer earlier

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 6:58 PM CDT
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LAKE HALLIE Wis. (WEAU) - Nine health systems across the country, including Marshfield Clinic, are taking part in a decade-long cancer research project.

“The Connect for Cancer Prevention study is a long-term research project that we’ve begun working with the National Cancer Institute,” Dr. Robert Greenlee said.

Greenlee is the senior research scientist for Marshfield Clinic Research Institute and a part of the cancer study.

“It’s designed to identify causes of cancer, ways to prevent it from happening in the first place, and ways to detect it as early as possible when the cancer is most treatable,” Greenlee said.

Greenlee says the study includes sample collection like blood, saliva, and urine. It also includes gathering personal information like daily habits and general background history.

“That information provides the resources we need in this long-term follow-up study,” Greenlee said. “Once we can see who has developed cancer over time and who hasn’t, we can compare and see what are the factors that are most likely to raise the risk of developing cancer and because of the by a specimen collection.”

Greenlee says Marshfield Clinic-Lake Hallie started enrolling people in the study over the winter.

The hope is to eventually add six other Marshfield Clinic sites over the next few years.

“Patients from Marshall Clinic are eligible if they are adults ages 40 to 65 and have no prior history of cancer,” Greenlee said.

So far Greenlee says about 100 people in the Marshfield Clinic Health System are enrolled in the study.

“In this first year, we hope to get about 800 subjects total,” Greenlee said. “So we already have several dozen participants from the Chippewa Falls, Lake Hallie region as well as from the Marshfield region.”

Anna Zachow who is a research coordinator for the study chose to also enroll as a participant.

“I have in the last three generations, I’ve had four family members die of breast cancer,” Zachow said.

Zachow says she likes this study because it doesn’t just focus on one particular type of cancer.

“Everyone has their own passion and their own reason, but any little thing that you can do to move these things forward is super vital,” Zachow said.

Zachow says the enrollment process was simple and the time commitment has been low.

“I’ll just continue to watch my portal for information on when the next surveys populate and come in every three years for new specimens collection,” Zachow said.

Because the study does cover various types of cancer, Greenlee believes the project will help identify its causes.

“Despite great improvements in treatments for patients with cancer, we haven’t had nearly as much advancement in understanding the underlying causes of cancer and how to help patients prevent cancer and how to detect it as early as possible,” Greenlee said.

If you are a Marshfield Clinic Healthy System patient and interested in the Connect for Cancer Prevention study, click here to learn more.

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