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Women needed for national breast cancer study

American Cancer Society urges American Indian women to apply

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Women who have had a sister with breast cancer can make a difference in the fight against the disease by joining the Sister Study, a nationwide effort to find the cause of breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, more participants are still needed for the Sister Study, a research project that's getting to the bottom of environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer.

''It's very important that all women are represented in this study,'' said Roberta Cahill of the ACS. ''We want to make sure Native American women know about the study so that they can participate. Cancer still takes too many lives in the Native American population.''

Cahill is Yankton Sioux and lives in Pierre. Her work focuses on education and awareness to diverse populations.

''Every three minutes, another woman is diagnosed with breast cancer,'' said Cahill. ''This study will look at how genetics affect our risk, and will also examine environmental risk factors.''

Nationwide, the Sister Study is looking for 50,000 women ages 35 - 74 who have not had breast cancer themselves and who come from all walks of life. A major challenge in studying breast cancer and the environment has been the lack of data gathered before diagnosis about exposure and lifestyle factors.

''Because of shared genes and lifestyle, sisters of women with breast cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease themselves,'' said Cahill. ''By studying sisters, researchers hope to identify risk factors that can help find ways to prevent breast cancer.''

The study is being conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health. The ACS supports the exploration of genetic and environmental links to breast cancer by spreading awareness of and encouraging participation in the Sister Study.

An estimated 178,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease this year. Of those, it is estimated that 40,000 will die.

''Participation in this study will make a lasting contribution to breast cancer research,'' said Cahill. ''It's probably the greatest gift you could give to your sister.''

For more information on how to join the study, call the ACS at (800) 227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the ACS has 14 regional divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For cancer information anytime, call (800) 227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. For information about this article, e-mail Charlotte Hofer, ACS, at charlotte.hofer@cancer.org.

Frequently asked questions about the Sister StudyAm I eligible to join the Sister Study?You are eligible if:* You have a sister, related to you by blood, who has had breast cancer.*You have never had breast cancer.*You are between the ages of 35 and 74.*You live in the United States or Puerto Rico.Why should I join the Sister Study?All women - including American Indian women -need to be represented in this study. By joining, you'll be making a significant contribution to breast cancer research. Breast cancer affects all women, of every race and age.If I join the Sister Study, what will I be asked to do?You will be asked to:*Answer questions about your lifestyle, medical history, jobs and environment.*Complete a questionnaire about your diet, family history and personal exposures.*Meet with an examiner in your home or other location to provide us with samples of your blood, urine, toenails and house dust.*Provide a health update every year for the length of the Sister Study (at least 10 years).*Provide additional information about your diagnosis and treatment if you develop breast cancer in the future.Will my information be kept confidential?Yes, all information provided is kept confidential.