Background: There is a need to facilitate research aimed at finding the cause and prevention of breast cancer. A deterrent has been the difficulty basic scientists have in involving normal women in clinical research. However, the Dr Susan Love Research Foundation has had success in recruiting healthy community women for studies. In 2006 we partnered with a Texas Tech University scientist who had planned to do his research in an animal model because he felt it would be impossible to obtain blood and core needle biopsies from the women fitting his strict criteria. However by accessing our registry of potential volunteers we were able to collect all the specimens. A grant from the Avon Foundation for Women allowed us expand and to develop the Love/Avon Army of Women (AOW).Methods: The AOW was launched in October 2008 by Dr. Love on national media- to recruit one million women who are willing to participate in clinical research into the cause and prevention of breast cancer. Researchers contact the AOW and apply for access to the AOW. Projects are reviewed by the AOW Scientific Advisory Committee which includes members nominated by the AACR and the NBCC. If a researcher cannot obtain his or her own specimens, there are regional AOW Centers where the appropriate data and samples can be collected according to the specifications of the scientist. The criteria and procedures of approved AOW studies are e-mailed to the entire AOW database allowing viral distribution beyond the registry. Women self-select and sign up for studies on-line after a secondary screen. Researchers are responsible for explaining the study and will report back to the participating women the overall findings of the study via webcast once completed ensuring a partnership between the women and the researchers while educating women in the way research is conducted.Results: As of June 2009, over 286,000 women have become Army of Women members by signing up at www.armyofwomen.org. Members of all races/ethnicities ranging in ages from 18 to 100 are represented. There are members in all 50 states as well as many countries throughout the world. Twenty per cent of members are breast cancer survivors while the rest are unaffected. Since October 2008, the AOW has recruited for ten studies. All have had a rapid and substantial response, continually far exceeding the researcher's expectations. Five were closed within a week. Over 11,000 women have participated in AOW supported clinical research studies. Efforts are underway to launch a large online cohort study enabling collection of cross-sectional and longitudinal data that can be accessed to address specific questions in survivors and unaffected women.Conclusions: The Love/Avon Army of Women is an available resource for epidemiologists and basic scientists who have projects that need human breast tissue, ductal fluid, urine, saliva or blood as well as data. This novel resource allows breast cancer scientists to obtain exactly the type of specimens and information they need when they need it and promises to revolutionize research and accelerate efforts to eradicate breast cancer.
Citation Information: Cancer Res 2009;69(24 Suppl):Abstract nr 3075.