By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More than 200 people signed up today in center city Philadelphia to take part in a decades-long study on preventing cancer.

The American Cancer Society hopes to sign up a total of 300,000 people nationwide.  Participants must be between 30 and 65 years old and never diagnosed with cancer.

Every couple of years, they will be asked to fill out a questionnaire on their lifestyle habits.

Tina Spado was working on the initial screening questionnaire.

“Were you ever on birth control, your marital status, if you drink, smoke… your basic questions,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

Participants are also asked to give a blood sample for testing.

Dan Hilferty, president of Independence Blue Cross, was one of the first in line.

“I am signing up,” he said.  “This is a very important study — it’s about finding a cure for cancer.”

St. Joseph’s University basketball coach Phil Martelli was also there, volunteering for the ACS study.

“If this study allows them to present information to our kids and grandkids, then sign me up,” he said.

Previous long-term studies have identified the value of physical activity, the danger of smoking, and the link between aspirin use and a reduced risk of colon cancer.