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Family history of leukemia pushes first enrollee to participate in cancer research

Family history of leukemia pushed Roxy Eibergen to participate in Connect cancer research study

Family history of leukemia pushed Roxy Eibergen to participate in the Connect for Cancer Prevention Study.

Leukemia. That is why Roxy Eibergen was the first person to sign-up for the Connect for Cancer Prevention Study at Marshfield Clinic Lake Hallie Center in October 2021.

“I had a family member who passed away from leukemia. By the time it was caught, it was in the late stages,” Eibergen said. “Another family member had cancer that was caught very early and it was a good result. I know that if we can better target who might develop cancer earlier, we might be able to save more lives.”

The Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute will be leading the recruitment and data collection efforts for Marshfield Clinic Health System. The Health System is one of nine health care systems throughout the country partnering with the National Cancer Institute to enroll 200,000 adults in Connect over the next several years.

“Marshfield Clinic Health System aims to recruit 7,600 patients who are between the ages of 40 and 65 and have no history of cancer to participate in this important study,” said Robert Greenlee, Ph.D., M.P.H., the Connect principal investigator and senior research scientist at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. “The burden of cancer on our communities and families remains very high. Connect will create a platform of research for years to come that we expect will reduce this burden by uncovering ways to prevent cancer, detect it earlier when it’s more treatable, and improve the health of cancer survivors.”

Representatives from the National Cancer Institute participated in site visits June 15 in Marshfield and June 16 in Lake Hallie and observed project coordinators collect the first biologic specimens from Connect participants.

For Eibergen, the process so far has been easy. After signing up, she completed an online survey.

Connect is a long-term study. It takes time to understand the causes of cancer, so participants are asked to take part in the study for many years. They will complete online health surveys a few times a year, share access to their electronic health records, and donate samples of blood, urine and saliva every two to three years. Safeguards for privacy and confidentiality are in place to protect participants’ data and biological samples.

“We need research and we need people that are willing to participate so we can make advances in health care,” Eibergen said. “The more we can learn about people and the diseases they face, the more likely we are to find cures or treatments that lessen the symptoms.”

Any Marshfield Clinic Health System patient between the ages of 40 and 65 with no history of cancer can join Connect. Participants can donate sampl​es at Marshfield Clinic Lake Hallie Center and at the Clinical Research Unit (LK2) in the medical office building of Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield.

To learn more about the Connect for Cancer Prevention Study and sign up, visit cancer.gov/connectstudy.​

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