What is the Army of Women?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2019
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The Army of Women is an American breast cancer research initiative which is designed to promote collaboration among breast cancer researchers while also creating a pool of potential study subjects. The goal of the Army of Women is to enlist one million women, creating a huge group of potential study participants who can work with researchers to explore the causes behind breast cancer, and to develop potential cures, better diagnostic methods, and other tools which could help reduce deaths from breast cancer.

This project is a cooperative venture between Doctor Susan Love, a notable breast cancer researcher, and the Avon Foundation, an organization which contributes funds to breast cancer research. Dr. Love established the Army of Women in October of 2008 when she realized that many researchers were having difficulty finding subjects. She theorized that this was because women didn't know how to join potential studies, and that if a central database was created, researchers could get access to the subjects they need.

Any woman who is not actively undergoing breast cancer treatment is welcome in the Army of Women. The goal is to create a very diverse pool of potential participants, ensuring that a wide assortment of information can be gathered and generalized to apply to women of all ages and racial backgrounds. When participants join the Army of Women, they provide their names and basic contact information, and when studies appear in their area, they are contacted with information about the study.


Joining the Army of Women does not require a commitment to serve in potential studies. Breast cancer studies are incredibly varied, and women decide independently on whether or not they want to participate, after receiving the relevant information. All tests required for the study will be funded by the researcher, and some studies also provide compensation to pay for travel expenses, time off work, and to help participants cope with inconveniences related to the study. The Army of Women also protects the information about its volunteers, for privacy reasons.

As of 2008, the Army of Women was only open to American women and researchers, although plans were in the works to open the program to the rest of the world. By enlisting, women can directly contribute to the effort of finding a cure for breast cancer. The Army of Women model can also be used to enlist potential subjects for other types of research, creating a system which allows researchers to quickly access potential subjects in their areas.



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