More than 100,000 women are being sought to take part in Australia's largest ever breast cancer study. The $5 million study is being funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and the federal government and will screen women with and without the disease in the hope of better understanding it.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women and is responsible for more than 2,500 deaths each year.
Under the study, the breast screens, as well as information about participants' lifestyles and cancer treatment, will be put in a database to help identify risk factors and treatment options.
NBCF patron Sarah Murdoch said breast screening was well coordinated in Australia, but was not funded to contribute to research.
"Our $5 million will build the foundation for a national, and even, international cohort study," Ms Murdoch said.
"This will be a world-class resource, enabling cutting edge research. It could even provide a model for other cancers where screening is available."
Ms Murdoch made the announcement during an address at the National Press Club in Canberra today in which she launched national breast cancer awareness month.
The foundation is aiming to raise $5 million for research during October through a number events, including national pink ribbon day.
Ms Murdoch, who has been patron of NBCF for 11 years, says awareness about the disease has grown enormously since she started.
"When I first started working for breast cancer 11 years ago, the word breast was still a private part of the body," she said.
"I remember saying I'm here with the national breath (breath) cancer foundation."
Ms Murdoch said she hoped the same recognition could be generated for disease like prostate cancer, the most prevalent cancer in Australia.
"We understand that prostate and other cancers don't get the same amount of exposure that we get," she said.
"We really hope that a lot of the work that we do at the Breast Cancer Foundation will help other cancers."
Ms Murdoch said prostate cancer needed a celebrity figurehead, and said she would consider asking her media heir husband Lachlan Murdoch.
"A great male figurehead would be great, we need somebody to get up for prostate cancer."