How You Can Help
We need YOU to partner with scientists working on preventing breast cancer. Women of every age, ethnicity, and breast cancer risk are needed now!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How did the Army of Women get started?
Like many women, Dr. Susan Love was becoming increasingly frustrated by our not having made more progress in figuring out what causes breast cancer and how to prevent it. Scientists told her that they did not know how to find the women who would be interested in taking part in the studies that were needed to end this disease. Dr. Love realized the problem wasn’t that women didn’t want to participate in these studies, but that they didn’t know that they were needed. In short order, the idea was born of an Army of Women ready to serve science.
Why did the Avon Foundation for Women provide seed funding for this initiative?
The Avon Foundation for Women, a leader in the breast cancer cause, is one of the largest private funders of breast cancer research. As a result, they are well aware of how difficult it can be for researchers to find the volunteers they need for their studies. They immediately recognized the need for the Army of Women and provided a grant to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation to make it happen.
Why is it called an Army of Women?
We feel that we need to move the search for the cause of breast cancer to a new level, one that will take a lot of women to participate. The word Army, which means a large group of people united for a specific purpose, quickly and clearly describes who we are. The image of us all joining in a virtual Army to get this done is a powerful one.
Why should I sign up?
You should sign up for your sister, mother, daughter, granddaughter, best friend, and the woman you met last week. Breast cancer has been around for decades, but it does not have to be our future. We can be the generation that stops breast cancer once and for all by figuring out what causes this disease and how to prevent it! This is YOUR chance to be part of the research that will end breast cancer.
Can men join the Army of Women?
Yes, in fact we strongly encourage male breast cancer survivors and men who have immediate relatives who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer to sign up as part of the Army of Women.
Can women from outside of the US join the Army of Women?
Yes, women from all over the world are welcome to sign up and be part of the Army of Women.
How does the Army of Women work?
Women and men who are interested register on the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation's Army of Women Program website, providing very basic information such as name, age, ethnicity, and city of residence. You will receive email updates from the Army of Women announcing new research studies looking for volunteers just like you. The email will detail the research project and who and what the researchers need. If you fit the criteria and you’d like to participate, all you need to do is click “Yes, Sign Me Up” to let us know you’ve accepted our “Call to Action.” From there, you will be asked to log-in to your account and then directed to the next steps. If you accept the Call to Action by clicking “Yes, Sign Me Up,” you will be asked questions to make sure you qualify for the study. Once we confirm your qualification for the specific study, your information will be given to the researcher conducting the study. The researcher will contact you for a secondary screening to make sure you meet the study criteria and to answer any questions you might have about study participation. You will never be pressured to take part in any study. The decision to take part is yours — and yours alone. If you meet the study criteria as determined by the researcher and are interested in taking part, the study researcher will let you know what you need to do next.
What might a study require?
There are many different types of studies. Some might require you to complete a questionnaire, while others might need a sample of blood, urine, saliva, breast fluid, or breast tissue. Some studies might be clinical trials testing a new detection marker. You decide which studies you want to take part in.
How will research change now that the Army of Women exists?
Breast cancer research is often focused on killing the tumor cells. Much less attention is paid to how cancer starts and how to prevent it. Furthermore, most prevention research has been conducted in the lab — on cell lines and mice. The Army of Women will focus new attention on the need to unlock the key to what causes breast cancer by having women and men partner with scientists.
Why do researchers want to study healthy women?
Most basic research in breast cancer has been done in the laboratory and on animals, or with samples collected and stored from women with breast cancer. Researchers use animals and samples from a “tissue bank” because they don’t have ready access to healthy women. But what we learn from animals doesn’t always translate into how cancer develops in women, and tissue only from women with cancer may not help solve the puzzle of what caused the cancer. The Army of Women will allow researchers to conduct a wider array of studies and to solve the puzzle as to how breast cancer starts and how to stop it in women!
How does the Army of Women help researchers?
One of the biggest obstacles to conducting research on humans is finding people to participate in studies. Due to many factors, it is difficult and time-consuming and it can delay the start or progress of the study. The Army of Women provides a significant and cost-effective resource for researchers to find women and men who meet their study criteria, allowing them to move into the research phase much more quickly.
How will you make sure that the research applies to all women?
It is critical that the Army of Women represent all kinds of women of all sizes, shapes, ages, ethnicities, lifestyles, and geographic areas. This is the only way we will truly learn about this disease. We depend on our Army of Women participants to help us recruit a wide diversity of women so that the data from the studies will apply to all of us.
Can women with breast cancer participate?
Yes. Women with breast cancer can join the Army of Women, as can women who have never had breast cancer. We need all women to participate.
What exactly will I have to do in a study?
It depends on the type of study. Studies may need women who will:
- Complete a questionnaire.
- Donate blood—this would typically involve having a blood sample taken from a vein in your arm.
- Donate saliva or toenail clippings.
- Donate urine — this would involve collecting a small sample at a clinical laboratory or at your own home using a kit provided by the research team.
- Donate a small sample of breast tissue—this would typically involve having a core needle biopsy done under local anesthesia as an outpatient. Your breast will look exactly the same as it did before the tissue was removed.
- Donate breast fluid—this would be done with a breast pump. You would be asked to massage your breast and squeeze your nipple prior to the pump being placed on your nipple. The procedure usually takes 1-15 minutes per breast.
- Donate breast fluid obtained through ductoscopy and/or ductal lavage. This procedure obtains fluid from the breast by washing out the breast ducts. You can learn more about ductal lavage and ductoscopy here.
When it comes to medical research, blood, urine, breast fluid and breast tissue are all considered “tissue.” Scientists use this type of tissue for a wide range of medical research studies. You can learn more about providing tissue for medical research here.
How does a researcher apply to the Army of Women for subjects?
Scientists must apply to the Army of Women for the opportunity to recruit volunteers for their research. Every study undergoes a scientific, safety, and ethical review.
How will my privacy be maintained?
The Army of Women staff will ensure that your contact information remains confidential. All researchers who recruit from the Army of Women agree to follow the strict confidentiality guidelines enforced nationwide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Will I have to pay for any of the tests a study might require
No. Not all studies will require laboratory tests. If they are required for a particular study they will be paid for by the researcher conducting the study.
Does my insurance company need to know that I am taking part in a study?
Virtually all of the research studies you will be asked to sign up for do not require your health care provider or insurer to have any knowledge of your participation. This means your insurer does not need to approve your involvement. Furthermore, your insurer will not be given any information about any findings that come from a study in which you were involved. For some studies, you may need to obtain permission from your physician to participate.
How long will it be before I get to participate in a study?
We notify every Army of Women member every time a new study becomes available. Each Call to Action explains the type of women the researchers need for their study. For example, some researchers will be conducting studies that only need premenopausal or postmenopausal women while others may need only women who have not had children or only women who live in a certain geographic area. As a result, you may receive several emails before you find a study that interests you and that you qualify for. The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Health of Women Study is a first-of-its-kind international online study for women and men with and without a history of breast cancer. You can participate in the HOW Study right away by registering online at www.healthofwomenstudy.org and completing questionnaires that will help researchers gain a better understanding of the risk factors and prevention of breast cancer
What if I don’t want to participate in a certain study?
You are in control and are able to determine which, if any, research studies you would like to be involved in. You will never be asked to leave the Army of Women because you have not yet participated in a research study.
Can I forward the emails I receive on to others who I think might be interested?
Yes. We will provide you with a way to forward the emails to friends or family members you think might be interested in joining the Army of Women and taking part in a specific research study. We depend on you to help us get the job done. Please spread the word!
Will I get to learn what the researchers find out?
Yes. The Army of Women is a true partnership between women and scientists. All of the scientists who are recruiting women through the Army of Women will participate in our “virtual” Town Hall on our website, where they will provide blog postings about the progress they are making on their studies and the new things they are learning. We will also have regular webcasts, which will allow scientists to provide updates and Army of Women volunteers to ask questions in real time.
How long do you think it will take before scientists learn how breast cancer starts—and how to prevent it?
One can never predict scientific discovery, but the better tools and resources researchers have, the better they are able to investigate novel and important research. There is no question that the Army of Women will encourage researchers to design new studies and to actively use Army of Women members in their own research. We might acquire new information that changes our understanding of breast cancer next week, or next year. But what we do know is that the Army of Women will accelerate the process. We are in a hurry to stop breast cancer now!