| Sister Study Opens Nationwide
50,000 Sisters Of Women With Breast Cancer Needed To Help Find Causes Of The Disease
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
"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.
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
or call toll free 1-877-4SISTER (877-474-7837). Deaf/Hard of Hearing
call 1-866-TTY-4SIS (866-889-4747).