Over 40,000 women are expected to die of breast cancer in the United States
this year alone. In hopes of combating this disease, the National Institute of
Environmental Health Sciences--of NIEHS--has begun a new study which will
look at 50,000 sisters of women diagnosed with breast cancer nationwide.
The "Sister Study" is the largest study of its kind to look at breast-cancer risk
factors. Dr. Dale Sandler--Chief of the "Epidemiology Branch" at the NIEHS,
and principal investigator of the "Sister Study"--describes why this type of study
is so important...
"The idea behind the study came about because there's been tremendous concern that
the role of the environment has not been properly investigated. We thought that,
by studying sisters of women who have breast cancer--who are themselves at twice
the risk of developing breast cancer--we would have an efficient way to look at how
the environment and genes interact to increase breast-cancer risk."
The study is open to all women ages 35 to 74 that have a sister who has been diagnosed
with breast cancer. Researchers are hoping to attract women of all races--especially
minority women--and women over the age of 65. Dr. Sandler explains the process of enrolling...
"Women will go through a small screening questionnaire to determine their eligibility.
We do some of the data collection by telephone--which allows us to do this all over the
country. And then, we will send somebody to their home, to pick up some questionnaires
we ask them to complete--and to have a blood sample taken."
To get involved with the study, women may go online, to www.sisterstudy.org -- or can call toll-free, at 1-877-4-SISTER.
I'm Erin Dieterich, for the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland.