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FAQs: All CPS-3 Participants

CPS-3 Surveys

A: All CPS-3 participants receive a follow-up survey every 3 years, which you can either answer on paper and mail or answer online. These surveys enable the ACS research team to collect up-to-date information about any changes to your lifestyle, environment, and health. That frequency allows us to study how these factors relate to the risk of developing cancer and other health issues over the course of time.

If you register for the CPS-3 Participant Portal, you’ll receive more frequent, shorter online surveys in addition to the one you answer every 3 years. The goal is to more frequently share up-to-date, detailed information about changes to your lifestyle, environment, or health—which may change several times over the course of 3 years. Less time between your actions and answering questions about them may make it easier for you to answer survey questions accurately. 

A: In order to save our donors’ dollars, we request that all participants complete their surveys as soon as possible after receiving them. We understand that life is busy, so we will continue to send you requests to complete your survey via mail, email, or the Portal until you complete it or the survey-collection period ends.

  • If you’re answering surveys via the Participant Portal, you’ll typically have 6 months until the survey-collection period ends.
  • If you’re answering a triennial follow-up survey, you’ll typically have about 2 years until the survey-collection period ends, regardless of whether you answer the survey electronically or on paper.

Health Changes

A: Yes. In addition to studying the causes of cancer, we also want to learn if lifestyle, environmental, health, and genetic factors influence the results of cancer treatment and the quality and length of life after a cancer diagnosis. Plus, depending on the type of cancer you develop, we may ask you to answer some extra survey questions, request your consent for your cancer care provider to send us a sample of tumor tissue, or invite you to take part in cancer-specific CPS-3 sub-studies.

  • If you’re registered for the CPS-3 Participant Portal, please report a recent cancer diagnosis by clicking on “Report Cancer” in the drop-down menu at the top right corner of the home page.
  • If you’re not using the Portal, let us know the type of cancer and your diagnosis date by emailing the study team at, calling 888-604-5888, or reporting it on your next follow-up survey.

A: If you’re diagnosed with cancer while you’re still participating in CPS-3, we may ask you to send us written permission that allows us to have access to your medical records. Those records provide us with the most accurate and detailed information about your diagnosis and treatment.

We may also ask for your permission to contact the hospital where you were treated to get a sample of the tissue used to diagnose or treat your cancer, such as from a biopsy. 

Data Security and Privacy 

A: We combine and analyze our participants’ information for studies about cancer risk factors and cancer survivors’ quality of life, and we publish our findings. We don’t provide your name or any other identifying characteristics about you, and we make every effort to protect the identity of every participant in our studies. We only use your individual information aggregated with other CPS-3 participants’ information.

Our systems label the data we collect from you with a unique identification number, allowing your data to be stored separately from all personal identifiers, such as your name, address, email, and phone number. The process used for this separation is known as de-identification. Your personal contact information is only shared with American Cancer Society (ACS) staff who are directly involved in managing CPS-3. No other staff members have access.

A: Yes. We use secure sites to host the CPS-3 survey questions and answers. All study information is saved on secured computer files and stored in a locked facility. Only a limited number of CPS-3 Study Managers have access to the data. Each of those managers regularly completes biomedical research ethics training and has signed confidentiality forms that are tied with their continued employment with the ACS. 

Why Your Participation Matters

A: CPS-3 data are being examined to provide answers to multiple scientific research questions, including:

  • How does diet influence the risk of developing cancer? For answers, we analyze dietary patterns at different times of life, timing of meals, binge drinking, and blood biomarkers of diet
  • What effect does activity and sleep have on cancer? For answers, we analyze different intensities of physical activity and patterns of sedentary behavior and sleep. We also examine how exposure to light at night affects the quality of sleep.
  • What factors influence a person’s decision to use or stop using tobacco? For answers, we analyze the influences of genetics, e-cigarettes, and marijuana.
  • How do viral and bacterial infections affect the risk of developing cancer?
  • How do specific molecular subtypes of blood, breast, colorectal, ovarian,   and prostate cancers affect cancer survivors? For answers, we study tumor biopsy samples.

As a participant, you'll receive study highlights and updates each year via 1 mailed and 2 emailed newsletters.

You may also visit anytime to access previous newsletters and get more information about ACS Cancer Prevention Studies.

Last updated: September 2023