ATLANTA -- Sixty years ago, 1 million men and women signed up for the first-ever Cancer Prevention Study. They filled out surveys every few years. And the information from those million Americans led to a dramatic discovery.
Doctor Alpa Patel with the American Cancer Society is the lead researcher on CPS3, the third generation of the cancer prevention studies.
MORE | Join the Cancer prevention Study 3
"The first study was actually set up to specifically address the question of whether not smoking caused lung cancer, and it provided the first evidence that in fact smoking is what was the causal fact, causal factor with the increase rise in lung cancer death rates we were seeing in men at that time," she said.
It's something we take for granted -- if you smoke, you can get lung cancer. But that discovery was just one of 500 scientific publications to come out of the first and second generation cancer prevention studies.
Today, there's a 20% decline in the cancer mortality rate. Treatment is better. Early screenings save more lives.
But there remains much more we need to know, because cancer is still threatening and claiming the lives of the people we love most.
So, one initial blood sample, a survey every two years, and a commitment to keep at it. What's it worth? Everything.
In the two and a half years since 11Alive did a story at the AFLAC cancer center, two of the children we profiled, 6-year-old Joshua Johnson and teenager Laura Stewart, died.
Your commitment can help us tell more stories of survival. Collectively, we have within us the answer to understanding and one day curing cancer.