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Participant FAQs

How did the Army of Women get started?

Dr. Susan Love, like many members of the breast cancer community, was frustrated by the slow advancements in learning what causes breast cancer and how to prevent it. In order to learn more about the causes, prevention, and treatment of cancer, researchers need to work with volunteers to explore possible solutions. Scientists, however, told Dr. Love 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. Without people to participate in studies, new and innovative research solutions are impossible.

Dr. Love realized that women and men want to help find breast cancer solutions and are willing to participate in studies—they just didn’t know that they were needed! From this, the idea was born of an Army of Women, ready to serve science.

Is the Army of Women program conducting these studies?

No. All supported studies are conducted by research teams around the country. While we are not conducting these projects, each study goes through an extensive review process with our Army of Women team, our external Scientific Advisory Committee, and each researcher’s Institutional Review Board (IRB.) This process helps ensure that our members only receive the well-designed, scientifically sound studies that passed all three reviews.

Why do some studies only allow certain breast cancer stages, genders, or ages?

The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation encourages researchers to study men as well as women with breast cancer and all stages of disease whenever possible. This is a consideration that we present to all research teams looking to partner with the Army of Women. Depending on the study, some investigators are able to make changes to broaden their target populations -- other times, they are unable to include this group due to IRB restrictions, safety concerns, or data suggesting this group may not benefit from the intervention. We are committed to push every Army of Women supported researcher to expand their breast cancer research to include every possible population.

Why did the Avon Foundation for Women provide seed funding for this initiative?

The Avon Foundation for Women is one of the largest private funders of breast cancer research. As a result, they understood how difficult it can be for researchers to find volunteers for research studies. They 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 want to raise breast cancer research and the search for a cause to a new level — one that will take a lot of women to accomplish. The word ‘army’ means a large group of people united for a specific purpose. We feel this aptly describes who we are: a dedicated army, seeking to eradicate breast cancer once and for all.

Why should I sign up?

Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Army of Women® is a revolutionary initiative, connecting women and men of all ages, ethnicities, and locations to researchers committed to solving important breast cancer questions. We encourage anyone interested in breast cancer research to join: We need participants who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, volunteers with no history of breast cancer, and people who are considered ‘high-risk’ to join our Army of Women. Our goal is to forge partnerships between our members and the scientific community. We aim to teach our members about the clinical research process and connect them with innovative research studies.

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 have been diagnosed with breast cancer to sign up and be 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?

Interested women and men register on the Army of Women website. Signup is easy: members are asked to provide basic information such as name, age, ethnicity, and city of residence.

After you sign up, you will receive email updates from the Army of Women with information on new supported research studies that are looking for volunteers. These emails will detail the research background, study procedures, and eligibility criteria. If you fit the criteria and you’d like to participate, all you need to do is RSVP on the Army of Women website to let us know you are interested. Once we confirm that you are a good fit, your contact information is given to the researcher conducting the study. The researcher will contact you for a secondary screening and answer any questions you might have about study participation.

You will never be pressured to take part in any study. Participation is completely voluntary. The decision to take part is 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 supported 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 or a new treatment. You decide which studies you want to take part in.

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 allows 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 women of all 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 samples.
  • Donate saliva.
  • Donate urine samples.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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).

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’ email explains the type of women and/or men 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.

What if I don’t want to participate in a certain study?

You choose 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 did not participate 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. We want to forge a partnership between our members and the scientific community. To facilitate this connection, we offer webinars to allow researchers recruiting via the Army of Women to speak with our members, discuss results, answer questions, and offer potential opportunities for further investigation based on their results.