Those who join the Army of Women receive an email every few weeks describing research participation opportunities. If they are interested and meet the eligibility criteria, they contact the Army of Women, answer brief screening questions, and, if appropriate, their names are provided to the researcher for follow-up. Scientists must apply to the Army of Women for the opportunity to recruit volunteers from its pool, and every study undergoes a rigorous scientific, safety, and ethical review. When the study is over, researchers are required to present their results via a video or blog on the Army of Women website.

The demographic profile of the women who have volunteered is as follows:

•   86 percent have never had breast cancer.

•   74 percent have no family history of breast cancer.

•   Half are between ages 40 and 59.

•   86 percent are Caucasian.

•   Some 10,680 are African American, an equal number are Hispanic, and about 3,560 are Asian.

Hurlbert reported recent examples of how researchers are using the Army of Women database to recruit participants, including

•   a study of methylation in breast tissue hormones, which needed 300 healthy women for core biopsies (an invasive procedure) and other tests; this request generated responses from 739 women, and the study has already recruited 425;

•   a study looking for biomarkers in breast milk, which needed 250 lactating women who had been asked by their physician to have a breast biopsy to assess “something suspicious” (a relatively rare occurrence); the request generated such a large response that the researchers were able to quickly recruit 334 women, shorten the study’s recruitment timeline from 6 months to less than a week, add to the study questions, and expand the recruitment target to 2,000; and

•   a third study needed to recruit 100 Latina women for a study of breast cancer survivors’ quality of life; it received responses from 125 Army of Women volunteers, only 5 of whom were ineligible, enabling the researchers to expand the study 20 percent.

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