Sister study opens nationwide

October 18, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. A new study that will look at 50,000 sisters of women diagnosed with breast cancer opened today for enrollment across the United States. The Sister Study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, will investigate environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer. The Sister Study is the largest study of its kind to look at breast cancer risk factors.

Women of all backgrounds and ethnic groups are eligible for the study if they are between the ages of 35 and 74; live in the United States; have never had breast cancer themselves; and have a sister living or deceased who has had breast cancer. To recruit a diverse group of volunteers and to ensure the results benefit all women, researchers are especially encouraging African-American, Latina, Native American, and Asian women, as well as women 60 and older, to join the Sister Study.

Sisters may be the key to unlocking breast cancer risk mysteries. Dale Sandler, Ph.D., Chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS and principal investigator of the Sister Study said, 'By studying sisters, who share the same genes, often had similar experiences and environments, and are at twice the risk of developing breast cancer, we have a better chance of learning what causes this disease. That is why joining the Sister Study is so important.'

At the beginning, volunteers will complete several questionnaires and provide a sample of their blood, urine, toenails, and household dust. 'With that, we'll be able to look at how genes, activities of daily life, and exposure to different things in our environment are related to breast cancer risk,' Dr. Sandler explained.

'We've made the process as easy and as convenient as possible, so we will come to you,' she added.

The landmark study will stay in touch with the volunteers for 10 years and compare those who develop breast cancer with the majority who do not. While past studies have largely focused on hormones, reproductive health, and lifestyle, the Sister Study will take the most detailed look ever at how women's genes, and things women come in contact with at home, at work, and in the community may influence breast cancer risk. Researches will study a range of environmental exposures, from personal care and household products, to workplace and other common exposures.

'Genes are important, but they don't explain it all,' said Dr. Sandler. 'The truth is that only half of breast cancer cases can be attributed to known factors.' And, two known genes linked to breast cancer BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 play a role in only five to 10 percent of cases.

Women who may have felt helpless as they watched their sisters battle breast cancer now have an opportunity to help researchers learn more about causes of the disease. Dottie Sterling and Fluffy Reed both joined the study at the request of their youngest sister, Wish Martin, a breast cancer survivor in Maryland. 'Throughout my sister's fight with breast cancer, we all prayed and prayed for healing and a swift recovery,' said Sterling, a Sister Study volunteer in Ohio. 'Now my sister has been a breast cancer survivor for more than 13 years, and I could not be more proud. I see joining the Sister Study as my tribute to her strength and her faith.'

Many women have lost their sisters to breast cancer. "We need to find a cure for breast cancer and improve detection, diagnosis and treatment," said Patricia Bango, a participant in Virginia. "I joined the Sister Study as an advocate for my sister, Sally, who did not survive this devastating disease. I know her hope would have been that these efforts will help researchers find out what causes breast cancer."

The Sister Study opened in pilot states, including Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia, earlier in 2004; but is now open for nationwide enrollment.
-end-
Organizations that are in partnership with the Sister Study include the American Cancer Society, Sisters Network, Inc., the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, as well as countless local community breast cancer support and advocacy groups.

To volunteer or learn more about the Sister Study, visit the web site www.sisterstudy.org or call toll free 1-877-4SISTER (877-474-7837). Deaf/Hard of Hearing call 1-866-TTY-4SIS (866-889-4747).

CONTACTS: John Schelp
919-541-5723
schelp@niehs.nih.gov

Kim Varner
(202) 842-3600 x254
kvarner@hagersharp.com

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
Brightsurf.com 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 Amazon.com.