Den, working for the American Cancer Society as a CTR must be very interesting and different than a hospital position. Can you tell our readers about your job?
“Each day I have a unique opportunity to see cancer research in action as I work alongside researchers within the American Cancer Society’s Epidemiology Research Program. I am a part of the Study Management and Bio specimen Group. We are responsible for collecting, processing, and tracking bio specimens and survey data, hospital medical records, NDI linkages, and cancer registry data related to participants in the Society’s Cancer Prevention Studies.
There are currently three Cancer Prevention Studies. Many of you have heard of CPS-3, which is the latest installment of the Cancer Prevention Studies. In 2013, the Society completed recruitment of 300,000+ people to for this new prospective cohort study.
I have primarily worked as a cancer registrar with the CPS-2 Nutrition cohort which was established in 1992-1993 as a subset from the original 1.2 million participants recruited for Cancer Prevention Study 2. This smaller cohort was established to gather information concerning dietary exposures, update additional exposures, and conduct prospective cancer incident and mortality follow-up.
Every two years, participants complete surveys updating their exposure information. Participants self-report cancer diagnosis on their surveys. Once a cancer diagnosis has been established, a participant is provided an informed consent letter asking their permission to obtain medical records from their healthcare providers. Once written consent is obtained, cancer information is abstracted from a medical record and goes through quality control processes to ensure accuracy. If a participant does not consent, researchers will rely on state cancer registry data.
Getting a medical record is important as it allows researchers to collect information of interest. For example, researchers at ACS started collecting Her2neu information long before it was a data item in the Collaborative Stage fields.
Our group is also currently collecting tumor blocks from a participant’s diagnosis or treatment specimen. The blocks are retrieved from pathology departments and labs. The addition of the biorepository collection helps researchers answer specific scientific questions regarding nutritional factors, hormone, and genetic susceptibilities.
There is strength in numbers. Participants who are active in filling out surveys help provide follow-up information and really add value to the research that is done. In the last 15 years of my career at the American Cancer Society, I have enjoyed working with participants who really care about cancer research and would like to see an end to this disease. Due to an aging cohort, we will be sun setting CPS-2 active follow-up at the end of the 2017-2019 survey cycle. However, cancer research will continue from the information gathered from CPS-2 Nutrition cohort for years to come.”