Over the past twenty years over 5.5 billion dollars have been spent on breast cancer research. While progress has been made, there are still 40,000 deaths from breast cancer a year in the United States. To prevent the majority of cases of breast cancer, it is time to refocus our efforts on what causes the disease. While genes and radiation are among known causes of breast cancer they only represent 30% of the cases. Many women have no risk factors to explain their disease. One possibility is that there is an infectious cause. Infections and chronic inflammation have been linked to some cancers such as cancer of the cervix. Our central hypothesis is that bacteria and viruses populate the breast ducts and a subset of microbes is associated with the development of invasive breast cancer. To do this exploratory study we will combine the strengths of subject recruitment via the Love/Avon Army of Women, our ability to sample breast duct fluid through the nipple, along with new DNA technologies, to map the DNA of all the bacteria and viruses present in the breast. We will compare the infectious landscape in healthy women and women who have had breast cancer.
The purpose of this study at the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation in Santa Monica, CA, is to explore whether bacteria and viruses are found in breast ductal fluid. The researchers wanted to enroll 100 women. The Call to Action for this study was sent to Army of Women members on November 14, 2012. The researchers were able to close enrollment on March 3, 2013, after the Army of Women provided them with 211 women who were interested in enrolling in the study.