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Atlantic Path goes virtual

The largAtlantic PATH virtualest cancer study ever conducted in Atlantic Canada is taking a new path. Starting in June, Nova Scotians who want to participate in the Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow's Health, or Atlantic Path as it is commonly called, can do so sitting comfortably in front of their computer.

“We’re going live with our online questionnaire,” explains Principal Investigator Dr. Louise Parker. “For people who are not able to complete a Path Pack in their home, they can now still take part in the study.”

Atlantic Path will become only the second centre in Canada after Ontario to make the health survey questions available online. For Nova Scotians, this means that after June 20th, they can go to , register for the study and complete a questionnaire on their computer that will help researchers identify the causes of cancer and, in turn, develop better detection, treatment and prevention methods.

Completing the online questionnaire is a first step. Over the next couple of years, participants will be contacted for follow-up information, measurements, and samples. (This could even be toenail clippings!)

In our region, 30,000 participants are needed. To date, more than 11,000 have taken part in Atlantic Path. Time is running out, however, for future participation. “Recruitment for the study will end this year in Nova Scotia,” notes Dr. Parker. “If you are interested in being part of this project, now is the time to get involved. Send us an email at and let us know you want to take part and we will send you a link to the web questionnaire when we go live.”

Many Nova Scotians have gotten involved as Community or Workplace Champions. These individuals reach out to family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues, and facilitate the distribution and collection of Path Packs, which contain questionnaires, a measuring tape, toenail clippers, and in some cases, a dried blood spot collection kit.

Participants – past, present and future – can also follow progress of the study on Facebook and Twitter. Links are available on the Atlantic Path website.

“The data we’re gathering today,” says Dr. Parker, “will benefit the children and grandchildren of our study participants.”