The study, ACS says, will help researchers better understand various factors, such as genetics, environment and lifestyle that lead to or prevent cancer.
Mountain Christian Church in Joppa hosted the event and will also serve as one of the enrollment sites Nov. 7-11. Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company, Harford County Health Department at Woodbridge Station, St. Patrick's Church in Havre de Grace, John Carroll School in Bel Air and Upper Chesapeake Medical Center will also serve as enrollment sites for the study.
The goal is to enroll 500 to 600 people who work or live in Harford and is open to any U.S. citizen between 30 and 65 years old who have never been diagnosed with cancer, except basal or squamous cell skin carcinoma.
Mountain Christian Pastor Matt Silver spoke about his 6-year-old son, Ian, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009, according to an ACS press release. Ian will finish treatment in February.
"Forty years ago someone with my son's type of cancer would have only had six months to live, and now there is a 90 percent chance of a cure," Silver said. "Forty years from now our kids will benefit from the discoveries of this study."
Gloria Crockett, the Maryland vice president of ACS, noted the importance of banding together.
"It takes collaborations," she said. "We all need to work together in the [study's] story. The American Cancer Society is doing this study across the nation. I appreciate you being here as partners in the American Cancer Society."
Part of the study will include looking at samples of participants' blood and genetic markers, Dr. Philip Nivatpumin said.
The medical oncologist at Upper Chesapeake Health System continued, "It's important to collect information on what causes cancer and how to stop it." He added that the study "will identify newer risk factors for cancer."
The study also brings "hope," Susan Kelly, the Harford County Health Officer, said.
"I have five grandchildren and I want to leave a legacy of a cancer-free world to them," she said
Harford County's cancer rates "generally exceed the state average," Bill Wiseman, also with the county health department, said.
"We challenge everyone in this room to join us in championing this study. We wish tremendous success to this program."
After the event, Aberdeen Mayor Michael Bennett, who attended the kick-off, said over the phone that he is a prostate cancer survivor.
"Cancer is something that, unfortunately, touches just about every one of us in some form or another," he said. Bennett's wife has also lost two siblings to cancer. "I would be extremely excited if that was eliminated in my lifetime."