Sanford patients ‘connect’ to fight, study cancer

You’ve probably heard the phrase “we can accomplish more together than we can alone”.

This is true when it comes to studying and fighting cancer.

Sanford Health recently joined the National Cancer Institute’s Connect for Cancer Prevention Study. The nationwide study seeks to determine how certain factors, such as geographic location or occupation, may lead to a cancer diagnosis later in life.

Connect 101

Fargo, Sanford Health’s North Dakota-based research project manager, DeAnn Witte, said the length of the study sets it apart from others.

“It’s a long-term study of more than 10 years in healthy individuals,” she said.

It’s not just a long-term study. It is also a great study. Organizers hope to register 200,000 people.

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The “healthy individuals” component is important and what makes the study unique, said Amanda Mensing, project manager of Sanford Health research project out of Sioux Falls.

“The study is one of the first to enroll people before they ever get cancer. I know that a lot of research studies focus on patients when they get cancer, while they are more likely to look at people without any indication that they would get cancer,” she said.

Sanford Health is one of nine health care systems that participated in the study. The whole of the US is represented in the study, said Sanford BioBank director Chun-Hung Chan, MD

“There is representation from the East Coast, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. We even have a location in Hawaii,” he said.

Sanford’s connection

dr. Chan has worked with the National Cancer Institute for many years as director of Sanford BioBank. A few years ago, he was invited by the NCI to give a presentation on Sanford Research and what the healthcare provider does as part of Sanford BioBank.

After that presentation, Dr. Chan that the NCI approached him about participating in the study. Sanford Health has applied to participate in the study and has been approved.

“It was quite an honour. They were impressed with what we’re doing here and saw the value of including Sanford Health in this important new study,” he said.

“I think that says Sanford Health is starting to be recognized as a leader in research.”

How to register?

dr. Chan said patients can enroll through their primary care provider at Sanford Health or through the My Sanford Chart app.

If eligible, enrollees can answer questions about their health history, geographic location, occupation, and other background information.

The information will be used to identify the potential for developing cancer later in life.

“So in the Midwest there’s obviously a lot of farming. They can look at farming and possible exposure to agrochemicals, and then link that to where you actually live, and see if there’s a possibility you’ve been exposed to some kind of pesticide and if there’s maybe a link between that and developing cancer. .

“So, they really use a variety of different information, as well as the information that we provide and that the participant provides themselves to really get a comprehensive picture of what the participant has been exposed to at any given time that can lead to developing cancer,” said Dr. Chan.

Why it matters

Mensing said participating in this study is important because through the study, enrollees can say they could help future cancer patients.

“We are looking at a benefit to the general understanding of cancer in terms of how it could develop and affect future generations and help prevent cancer by identifying its causes and its risks. So much of it is a long-term effect if we look at doing a study that could have implications for future generations and the children or grandchildren of the participants,” she said.

“More than likely someone has been touched by cancer in some way,” DeAnn Witte added. “Whether through a family member or close friend or colleague, we all know people who have had to undergo cancer treatment. This is a way for those people to feel that they are helping and that they are contributing to the cause.”

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Posted in Cancer, Fargo, Research, Sioux Falls

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