Pink army recruiting for war on cancer

Employees of Westpac donned pink T-shirts and gathered in Sydney’s Martin Place where Sarah Murdoch, patron of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, spoke not of curing the disease but preventing it.

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“This is such an incredible sight,” Ms Murdoch said, looking out at the sea of pink in front of her. Today is the first step on the track to prevention,”she said.

“That’s such an important word because we don’t just want to find a cure, but we want to prevent breast cancer from occurring in the first place.”

Register4, Australia’s first online research register, aims to make data speedily available to breast cancer researchers.

Ros Kelly, former federal minister and chair of the foundation, said it could take years for researchers to get samples and cooperation from people, but the register was already speeding up the process.

“As of this moment we’ve already got 1,500 people signed up to do that for them,” she said. When people sign up for Register4 they make themselves available for researchers to contact immediately.

“We give you our word that your information will be treated confidentially, that the researchers who get access to this information will go through full ethics review,” Ms Kelly said.

The Australian Girl’s Choir braved the rain to perform the anthem for Register4, The Day will Come, written by Scott Buchanan and were later joined on stage by the Irish group Celtic Woman.

All Australians over the age of 18, with or without breast cancer, are encouraged to join up to the online register.

Initially, participants are only required to provide basic information about themselves and their lifestyle.

The choice to participate in any research project is then up to the individual.

Some projects will just involve a questionnaire, others may include joining an exercise study or providing a sample of blood, urine, saliva or breast tissue.

Although Register4 will initially focus on breast cancer, it is anticipated that it will eventually answer questions on a range of other health issues.

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