The Sister Study
The Center for Health Equity & Evaluation Research (DH-CHEER, formerly CRMH) joined forces with a national breast cancer trial to encourage more minority women to participate in breast cancer research. At the center of this current effort was The Sister Study, a national trial that seeks to determine if environment and genes can affect a woman's chances of getting breast cancer. The study enrolled over 50,000 women whose sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer to help find the causes of the disease. DH-CHEER community relations and outreach staff assisted in the recruitment of Houston-area women to the Sister Study.
Why was this important?
Most of what researches know about breast cancer risk comes from studies of mostly white women and their results don't explain why some risks seem to be different for African-American, Latina and Asian women. Overall, black women are more likely to develop the disease at a younger age, have higher death rates due to the disease and often have more aggressive tumors.
The Sister Study has made participation as convenient as possible. "At the beginning, women answer some over-the-phone and written surveys and provide blood, urine, household dust and toenail samples," said Dr. Dale Sandler, principal investigator of The Sister Study. "After that, for about 10 years, we'll touch base once a year to learn about changes to their address, health or environment." She added, “The Sister Study does not require participants to take any medicine, undergo any medical treatments or make any changes to their habits, diet or daily life.” The Sister Study follows sound, ethical research practices, gives frequent study updates to participants and keeps all personal data private and confidential. The researchers for the study are primarily women.
For more information about the project, visit The Sister Study website or call toll free at 1-877-4SISTER (1-877-474-7837) and reference MD Anderson Cancer Center.