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Vinton County Cancer Research Group Nears the End of its Study

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ATHENS, Ohio– A group of concerned citizens in Vinton County is wrapping up a two-year study on the number of cancer cases in their area.

Next month the group will start to review their results and compare the data gathered with other databases.

“We are number one in Ohio on cancer rates per capita and number two in death rates, so there’s something here in our area that’s causing this cancer and we would like to find out mainly the source and what we can do to prevent other people from getting cancer,” said co-investigator Randy Yates.

He said the group began their research by creating a questionnaire and disseminating it throughout the community for residents to fill out.

The survey includes questions about where the participant lives, what type of cancer they’ve had, whether or not they’re in remission, if they have well water, what their occupation is and more.

After receiving 235 responses, the group reached out to the Ohio University Office of Research for help in redesigning their questionnaire and moving the study forward.

Dr. Melissa Thomas, who has worked in cancer research for more than two decades, is the principal investigator in the study. Thomas said she knew right away she wanted to help with this project.

“The Office of Research knew this was a strong interest of mine, and I think within 24 hours we had a response back to Randy Yates to say we’d love to meet with you and talk about your project,” said Thomas. 

She said that while finding a cancer cluster is rare, the study offers the community resources and tools to further understand the disease.

“Really what started out as a question to the community has really empowered the community with all the tools that they need to help address this issue and can serve as a resource to help that community meet that need,” said Thomas.

Yates said that while searching for a cause behind the cancer is a big goal of the group, it’s not the main concern.

The main thing we want to do is educate and try to teach people what the best thing they can do for themselves to try and prevent cancer,” he said. 

As the first phase of the project wraps up, Thomas says the dedication of the community is what drove the study.

“There’s so many individuals in that community that have come together to want to do this, so it’s the spirit and heart and commitment of Vinton County that really makes this study everything that it is.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the study, you can go to the group’s Facebook page.