Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Skip to access and inclusion page Skip to search input

Media releases

Westpac and NBCF’s Register4 reveal Australian research findings about family risks of breast cancer


5 October 2012

Generations of women put up their hands for a future free from breast cancer

Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly and National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) Patron, Sarah Murdoch today revealed new Australian research regarding the family risks associated with breast cancer and called for all Australian adults to be a part of the next phase of research1 by joining Register4.

To encourage Australians to join Register4, NBCF’s online community for volunteer breast cancer research participants, Gail Kelly with her daughter Anne and Sarah Murdoch with her mother Carol ‘put up their hands’ to find a cure by placing the final pink painted handprints in a specially built white room filled with thousands of handprints from Westpac female employees.

New research findings released today by Professor John Hopper on behalf of the Australian Breast Cancer Family Study, revealed that the risk of breast cancer for the relatives of women diagnosed with the disease at a young age depends on the type of breast cancer2. Register4 is now helping Professor Hopper explore these findings further by opening up a new round of recruitment for up to 400 participants via its online community.

Professor Hopper said, “The new research shows that, for the immediate relatives of women with early-onset breast cancer, their risk of breast cancer has been exaggerated for one-third of the cases observed. On the other hand, their risk has been underestimated for one sixth of cases observed – it all depends on the type of breast cancer diagnosed.

“For a recent research project we ran using Register4, we were able to recruit 600 participants in less than two weeks. Before the inception of Register4, identifying this number of participants would have taken several years. In addition to the speedy recruitment, Register4 makes it easier to identify particular types of family histories and rapidly engage with families using the internet,” Professor John Hopper said.

After placing her pink handprint amongst the sea of imprints, Gail Kelly, Westpac CEO, said, “I am very proud of the role Westpac staff have played in supporting and building awareness of Register4. Since we helped to launch Register4 two years ago, 1,930 Westpac staff have signed up – showing that we have really taken the Register to heart.

“In our foyer we have had mothers and daughters of the Westpac community participate to create this beautiful installation by literally putting their pink painted hands up, with many joining Register4 afterwards. My daughter Anne and I hope that by putting up our hands, participating in Register4 and creating awareness for others to do the same, a cure will become a reality.”

Sarah Murdoch, Patron of the NBCF and Chair of Register4’s Women’s Advisory Network said, “I am so pleased to be putting up my hand with my mother Carol to help find a cure. Drawing attention to this next phase of breast cancer research through Register4 is such a worthwhile cause. I hope that by connecting participants with researchers swiftly we can continue to uncover important insights about the impact of genetics on breast cancer”.

Since its inception in October 2010, Register4 has already made a significant impact on the medical research landscape in Australia, drawing upon almost 30,000 members to successfully recruit for research projects within days or weeks, instead of years.

Register4 has recruited participants online for eight research projects, allowing researchers unprecedented access to a broad cross-section of the population. Importantly, this allows researchers to spend less time and money on recruitment and focus on the research itself.

Carole Renouf, CEO NBCF, said, “This October, Register4 is calling out for anyone over 18 years of age to join and take an active role in breast cancer research to help change the future”.

NBCF’s Pink Ribbons will be available in every Westpac branch throughout the month of October.

About Register4

Register4 is an initiative of the National Breast Cancer Foundation and is Australia’s first online community for volunteer breast cancer research participants. Register4 is an enduring and generational resource which aims to facilitate and fast-track breast cancer research. To become a member only takes a few minutes by signing up online. Register4 will then get in touch with participants if there is an approved research project, always leaving the level of
participation in the research up to the individual, who can choose which projects they would like to express interest in participating in.

About the Pink Hand Print Installation

On Wednesday, October 3 and Thursday October 4, women of Westpac were invited to “put up their hands” for a future free from breast cancer by leaving a pink hand print in a specially built white room along with their children and family. The structure was unveiled on Friday, October 5 with breast cancer survivors from around Australia, Gail Kelly and Sarah Murdoch placing the final handprints on the structure. There are currently 1,930 Westpac staff who have joined

About the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF)

The NBCF is the leading community-funded organisation in Australia raising money for research into the prevention and cure of breast cancer. The NBCF raises money for Australian-based research projects across every state and territory, to improve the health and wellbeing of those affected by breast cancer. With one in nine Australian women expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85, the need for research is more critical than ever before.

1 The Australian Breast Cancer Family Study Phase 3

2 This study excluded women with mutations in the known breast cancer genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2. Prior to this study, it was thought that all close relatives of the women with early-onset breast cancer would be at the same increased risk of about 2-fold.