Recruitment of 50,000 sisters of women with breast cancer

September 19, 2002

TAMPA, FLA. - At this month's Tampa Bay-area Race for the Cure, medical researchers will begin recruiting women for a unique effort to determine the causes of breast cancer - the "Sister Study." Researchers hope to eventually enroll 50,000 women volunteers nationally, ages 35 to 74, whose sisters have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Sisters of women with breast cancer are known to be at greater risk of breast cancer - up to twice the risk of other women. By following these sisters for ten years, the researchers hope to find clues as to why:

Is it genes they shared? A common diet? Early menstruation? A household or environmental chemical? A gene-environment interaction? By means of simple tests and questionnaires, the researchers - from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a part of the federal National Institutes of Health - will look at these and other factors.

The volunteers themselves may gain no medical benefit from the research but, as one of the women involved has said, "Our daughters may."

The first phase of recruiting will focus on the Tampa area where recruiters will sign up potential volunteers at the Survivors Tent during the Sept. 21 Race for the Cure at Straub Park, in adjacent St. Petersburg. Recruitment will continue following the race, taking advantage of volunteers who have agreed to help spread the word about the study, the internet, and other media.

A similar effort will kick off recruitment in Phoenix, Ariz., at its Oct. 13 Race for the Cure, then St. Louis, Mo., and Providence, R.I. - selected for their size and geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. The initial recruiting goal for the four cities together is 2,000 participants over the next six to nine months.

Recruiting strategies will be fine-tuned in these cities before the study goes national next year.

Sister Study representatives will carry out their first on-site recruiting of Tampa-area women Sept. 21 during the local Race for the Cure at Straub Park, in adjacent St. Petersburg. The Suncoast affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which sponsors Race for the Cure events across the nation to raise money to fight breast cancer, is providing space at the big Tampa event.

Dale Sandler, Ph.D., acting chief of the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch, and Clarice Weinberg, Ph.D., chief of the NIEHS Biostatistics Branch, are the principal investigators in this study. Dr. Sandler said, "Our recruiting plan includes working with breast cancer advocacy and support groups to spread the word about the Sister Study and our need for 50,000 women participants. Breast cancer advocates, in fact, will be the backbone of the study.

"We're asking them to register the Sister Study with volunteer centers, service clubs like Rotary and Junior League, public libraries, city search websites, and all breast cancer directories or hotlines."

Why sisters?

"First-degree relatives, especially sisters, have up to two times the risk of developing breast cancer as the average woman," Sandler said.

She said they are also likely to be within the same age range and to have been exposed to many of the same environmental factors during early childhood and even later in life. They also share many of the same genes, including those that determine the way their bodies handle carcinogens or repairs DNA.

They also, Sandler said, share a common concern over the disease that makes them more likely to want to participate in the study and stay in the study for the ten or more years that it may take to get results.

Besides collecting biological and environmental samples - blood, urine, toenail clippings and household dust - from participants at the outset, Sister Study researchers will use questionnaires to gather a multitude of data about health histories, environmental exposures and lifestyles. This comprehensive approach will allow the researchers to study new ideas regarding breast cancer while taking into account or reassessing what is already known.

Beyond the initial samples and questionnaires, participants will answer a shorter questionnaire each year for the next 10 or so years. Because most diseases like breast cancer develop slowly over a long period of time, researchers want to collect information from women who are healthy today and follow them over time to learn who stays healthy and who doesn't.
To volunteer or learn more about the Sister Study, go to the website or call toll free 1-877-4SISTER (1-877-474-7837).

Additional Contact Information: Tom Hawkins, 919-541-3347

NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to