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Landmark study is looking for your help – and your toenails

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Nova Scotians are offering their help – and their toenails – in the fight against cancer. To date, roughly 2000 individuals have come forward to take part in The Atlantic PATH, the largest cancer study in the history of our region. In all, 30,000 participants from Atlantic Canada are needed.


“We are overwhelmed by the generosity and support of Nova Scotians,” says Principal Investigator Dr. Louise Parker. “However, we have a long way yet to go.”

Cancer Care Nova Scotia is an active partner of this landmark initiative, which is part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, a $42 million national study funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. This study will follow the health of 300,000 Canadians between the ages of 35 and 69 for up to 30 years to determine what role lifestyle, the environment and genetics play in the development of cancer and other diseases.

Closer to home, The Atlantic PATH research will help us understand why the rates of cancer are so high in this region, so that we can find ways to deal with the causes and reduce those rates, says Dr. Parker. “It will also help us develop better ways to detect and treat cancer earlier and may even help us find ways of preventing some cancers altogether.”

“Indeed,” says Theresa Marie Underhill, Chief Operating Officer of Cancer Care Nova Scotia, “The Atlantic PATH will change everything we know about cancer in this region – from how we treat it, to most importantly, how we prevent it."

Participants in study will visit an assessment centre to answer questions about their health, diet and lifestyle; provide blood, urine, saliva and toenail samples; and have physical measurements taken, including height, weight and body fat composition. Participants will also allow researchers to follow their health through cancer registries, hospitalization records and other health-related databases for up to 30 years.

Here’s how you can get involved. Simply contact The Atlantic Path at 494-7284 in the Halifax area, 1-877-285-7284 toll-free, or visit the website at  www.atlanticpath.ca.

Please feel free to bring along your friends and family. In fact, some organizations are bringing along their whole team. Cancer Care Nova Scotia was proud to be the first organization to step forward to organize special assessment centre days dedicated exclusively to its staff.

On these days, the assessment centre is open only to staff from one organization.  Transportation is provided and employees are dropped off at the centre. For anyone who can’t make those dates, they can arrange to go, with full transportation assistance, on another day.

“We have all been given a tremendous opportunity to personally change what we know about cancer and to prevent it from occurring,” says Theresa Marie. “Now it’s up to us to take full advantage of that opportunity – for the sake of our children and our grandchildren.”

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