NBCF opens the doors for all cancer researchers

3rd February 2014

RegistrantsIn a ground-breaking move, the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s (NBCF) Register4 has today been opened up to assist research across all cancers and to make a real difference to everyone affected by these diseases. The online Register provides researchers with a quick, easy and cost-effective way to access participants for their studies.

Since October 2010, Register4 has proven its worth in fast-tracking breast cancer research, saving researchers vital time and resources. NBCF hopes to share that success and believes today’s announcement will prove as valuable to researchers working across all cancers that affect Australians.

Carole Renouf, CEO of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, said that traditional research recruitment can take years, often delaying results and exhausting resources.

“Register4 has shown that it can cut the recruitment process down from two years to two days, so results can flow faster. The Register has also been able to offer a wider variety of research participants and to do so at no cost to researchers.”

Ms Renouf commented that opening up the Register to all cancers also makes sense from a research perspective.

“As our understanding of how cancer evolves at the molecular level has improved, we’ve seen a shift towards research that spans across different cancers rather than focusing on specific parts of the body or tumour types. By opening up Register4 to projects across all cancers, we can accelerate the research process and deliver for all those affected by cancer, and their families.”

The first resource of its kind in Australia and one of just a handful throughout the world, Register4 was established with seed funding from NBCF in 2010 and has already attracted more than 35,000 members across Australia. Register4 is an online resource open to anyone 18 years and over, with or without cancer.

Register4 brings together researchers and people who are willing to take part in approved studies. Register4 provides a very simple way for all Australians to participate in cancer research and is now calling for more men and people with cancer to sign up.

NBCF Patron, Sarah Murdoch, was one of the first to sign up to the Register in 2010.

“One of the beautiful things about Register4 is its simplicity. It only takes three minutes to join, there’s a strict privacy policy and all projects are ethically approved. Most of all, it is about outcomes and with Register 4 we are all able to contribute to speeding up research to continue to find answers sooner.”

“It is time we think more broadly about cancer and today we are opening the register to all cancers. It is currently about 97% female so we are calling on men and, as well, people with cancer as we need more of those to help researchers. The men in my life are no exception. I can assure you that they will all be getting a nudge to log on to the website and sign up,” said Ms Murdoch.

One of the projects currently seeking participants aims to research methods of support for those recovering from chemotherapy. Researchers are calling on cancer survivors across the country to get involved as Register4 expands.

Lead investigator, Associate Professor Janette Vardy, from the University of Sydney explains, “Many cancer survivors report changes to their memory, concentration or thinking following chemotherapy. One of the projects I am working on aims to evaluate a ‘brain training’ program developed for people to use online at home. The aim is to find out how to treat cognitive problems in cancer survivors and to develop resources to improve support for those recovering from cancer.”

Another researcher hoping to find further participants – both men and women – with the expansion of Register4 has already experienced the ways in which it can speed up outcomes.

Professor Jane Ussher, from the University of Western Sydney and Register4 member, who is investigating the impact of cancer on fertility and sexuality, reported that in their first project it had taken several years to recruit 392 people and Register4 recruited a similar amount in four weeks.

“It is important for researchers to be able to hear directly from those impacted by cancer. It helps us to develop a better understanding and in turn better resources to help them and their families. Register4 is a fantastic resource and I hope that all men and women will sign up for the benefit of all cancer research, and those with an intimate experience of cancer will consider taking part in our new study,” said Professor Jane Ussher.