Army of Women
The Army of Women includes women from around the United States who participate in studies about breast cancer. The joint initiative between the Avon Research Foundation and the Susan Love Research Foundation started in October of 2008. The Army has already enrolled 300,000 women of all ages and ethnicities, healthy women, and women with all stages of breast cancer. Dr. Love spoke at the National Cancer Institute last week.
Crane: Most research on breast cancer has focused on finding a cure.
Love: My goal is not a cure for breast cancer. My goal is to prevent breast cancer altogether.
Crane: Dr. Susan Love, the renowned breast surgeon at the helm of the Army of Women, says to prevent cancer we must change the environment that causes it.
Love: To alter the environment means large epidemiological studies to figure out what the factors are. I worry that we're spending so much time on molecular biology that we're losing sight of those kinds of studies. We could know every gene in lung cancer and not know that smoking was related if we don't do these large epidemiological studies. And that's why we launched the Health of Women cohort.
Crane: That cohort includes women in Dr. Love's Army. Researchers can enlist these women for studies on many health issues, not just breast cancer. Dr. Love says these women are helping revolutionize scientific research.
Love: It's time for women to take the next step. Beyond just raising money for research, but actually participating in the research. The Army of Women is a real evidence that they're willing to do that. Since October we have 300,000 women, the majority of which do not have breast cancer and have no family history of breast cancer, who are ready to be in studies to figure out the cause of breast cancer. That's remarkable. And that shows you, the public is really ready to be there.
Crane: The Army of Women also includes women whose cancer has recurred, or spread to other organs. Dr. Love is especially interested in studying the habits of these long term survivors.
Love: I'm always meeting these women who had 28 positive nodes, twenty years ago, didn't take chemo, and are fine. Well, the treatment covers the first maybe five years. And we don't really study these long-term survivors. What about the women with metastatic disease, that are six, eight years out? What are they doing differently? There must be lifestyle and other issues that are contributing to their success. And if you have a million women, you're going to have enough women that you can start to answer these questions.
Crane: The Army hopes to enlist one million women. The way it works is women receive emails about the studies that Dr. Love's scientific committee has approved. The women reply to those they want to participate in.
Love: It costs nothing for the women to participate. They just sign up online and receive the emails. And they're not signing up to be in a study. They're just signing up that they're willing to hear about studies. So it's a great thing in this economy, where you don't have to spend money and you can still be doing good.
Crane: Women interested in joining the Army can sign up online at www.armyofwomen.org. This is Kristine Crane at the National Institutes of Health.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Kristine Crane
Sound Bite: Dr. Susan Love
Topic: breast cancer, clinical trials