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South Dakota 'Sisters' Take on Breast Cancer in New Study

October 1, 2007

Sioux Falls, SD – The American Cancer Society is making a push this month to increase participation in the "Sister Study," a research project in the search for the environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer.

Angie Rolle with the American Cancer Society says the research is directed toward women ages 35 to 74 with sisters who've had breast cancer. About 140 women from South Dakota and more than 41,000 women nationally are enrolled in the study, but more participants are needed.

"We know that there are a number of modifiable risks for breast cancer, like eating well and getting enough exercise, but there have been a number of studies about how genes affect your risk of breast cancer. This is a long-term study to see how those genes affect us and how our environment -- our homes, workplaces and communities -- influence our risk of breast cancer. Very little is known about that."

Rolle says information gathered in this study will be important because one of every three cancer cases diagnosed is breast cancer.

"It is the most prevalent cancer among women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths of women, only preceded by lung cancer. What we're trying to do for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is convince women to get their mammograms, if they're 40 or older. If they are younger, to talk with their healthcare provider about a clinical breast exam."

Rolle says the information gathered will be helpful to both researchers and health providers.

"It will help us determine what we can do, above and beyond screening for breast cancer, if there are certain risk factors. It may even influence how we guide women's decisions to be screened when we know there is a strong genetic link, or if there are environmental factors we can inform people about."

South Dakota women who would like to enroll in the study are asked to call 1-877-4SISTER, or enroll online at The goal is to enroll 50,000 women nationwide by December.

David Law/John Robinson, Public News Service - SD