By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Apr 24, 2013 at 5:11 AM Photography: shutterstock.com

This spring, the American Cancer Society is kicking off a massive project to sign up, track and study 300,000 adults for decades, in hopes of curing various types of cancer.

It’s not the first time the society has undertaken this. Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) follows CPS-1 and CPS-2, and the results of the first two programs served to advance cancer knowledge and treatment by leaps and bounds.

The American Cancer Society’s Laurie Rappa is hoping that CPS-3 does even more.

"This is the first time we’ve enrolled people in a cancer prevention study since the mid ‘80s," says Rappa. "It’s the only time in our lifetime that we’ll have the opportunity to give back to the prevention of cancer going forward."

That’s because the American Cancer Society is targeting men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 years old who have no personal history of cancer. It’s looking for various racial and ethnic backgrounds, and while participants don’t actually need to do much after in-person enrollement, this is a long-term commitment. The society hopes to track participants for the rest of their lives.

The Milwaukee goal for CPS-3 is 2,000 people.

The actual sign-up process is quick, confidential and simple. At 21 locations across Southeastern Wisconsin, workers will present volunteers with a consent form and a health survey, and will take some physical measurements and a small blood sample. Then, every few years, researchers will contact you to update your information.

"After the in-person enrollment, all future correspondence will be by mail or online," says Rappa. No more blood draws.

CPS-3 is not a clinical study, which means you won’t be informed of your blood test results, nor will the study be associated with your name. The test is completely confidential and can’t be used in any way to change your eligibility for insurance, or anything else.

Obviously, privacy concerns are different now than they were in the ‘50s and the ‘80s.

"Our process is very rigorous. Our tests are blind to us, as well," says Rappa. "That means we’re not contacting people with blood test results. This isn’t a replacement for regular, routine medical care."

So did the first two surveys help?

Absolutely, says Rappa. In the first survey, the American Cancer Society learned that tobacco use causes cancer. "In the 1950s, it was a question," says Rappa. "And one of the latest developments from CPS-2 links the time spent sitting and the risk of death."

In other words, CPS-2 led to research about healthy habits that extend even beyond cancer.

And you can play your part with one simple visit and a short survey every few years. You can help cure cancer.

Says Rappa, "This is giving forward to a future generation, so my daughter, your daughter, won’t have to hear those words, ‘You have cancer.’"

Southeastern Wisconsin enrollment sites include:

Kenosha County
Anytime Fitness Kenosha

Ozaukee County
Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee

Racine County
Anytime Fitness Racine
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – All Saints Hospital

Washington County
Froedtert Health – St. Joseph Hospital, West Bend

Waukesha County
American Cancer Society – Midwest Division, Pewaukee
Froedtert Health – Community Memorial Hospital Menomonee Falls
ProHealth Care – Waukesha Memorial Hospital
ProHealth Care – Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – Elmbrook Memorial Hospital

Milwaukee County North
American Cancer Society – Sankofa Health and Wellness Forum
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Joseph Hospital

Milwaukee County West
Froedtert Health – Froedtert Hospital

Milwaukee County East
Aurora Healthcare – Aurora Sinai Medical Center
Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee
Journal Communications, Inc.
American Cancer Society – Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC)

Milwaukee County South
Aurora Healthcare – Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center
ProHealth Care Mukwonago Clinic – DN Greenwald Cancer Center
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – Franklin Outpatient Hospital
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Francis Hospital

Andy is the founder and co-owner of OnMilwaukee.com. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.