The goal of Project Pink Tank is to improve our understanding of diver health among breast cancer survivors. The knowledge gained will be used to create a platform for future research and dive medicine consensus conferences.
We are currently working through the data analysis from our questionnaire on diver health among breast cancer survivors. Your participation has helped researchers improve their understanding of the benefits and potential health issues for breast cancer survivors who scuba dive. We are beginning our fundraising effort to follow post-dive health outcomes of breast cancer survivors in their own diving practice. If you are interested in participating, please check back often.
Background and Significance
Over her lifetime, a woman has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer. At present, there are over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, and this population is expected to continue to grow at an exponential rate. As the number of breast cancer survivors continues to increase, so does their presence in the recreational scuba diving community. In 2000, over one third of all PADI certified scuba divers were female(1), and this proportion has remained consistent among new certifications over the past seven years(2). Alongside previously scuba certified women who continue to dive following breast cancer recovery, support groups have also developed to introduce breast cancer survivors to scuba diving as a means of physical and mental wellness. However, despite the increasing prevalence of breast cancer survivors in the scuba community, our understanding of diver health among cancer survivors has yet to be addressed in a comprehensive manner(3).
The goal of Project Pink Tank is to improve our understanding of the potential mental and physical benefits, and long term effects of cancer therapy, on diver behavior and health. For the first phase of the project, certified breast cancer survivors will be surveyed using a web-based questionnaire for information on their diving experience, diver health status, and history specific to diving and their cancer diagnosis/treatment. The survey results will be used to create a database of diver health questions to be addressed through future research and consensus forums.
The second phase of the study will involve assessment of post-dive health outcome data among breast cancer survivors and healthy, age-matched female controls on an observational basis. Scuba certified volunteers will be outfitted with computers from VR Technology to be worn during their diving excursions. In addition to collecting individual dive profiles, these computers will incorporate a newly developed interface to collect post-dive measure of outcome data as described by the Diver Health Outcome assessment(4).
All data will be analyzed by Duke Dive Medicine research personnel to assess correlation between method(s) of treatment, length of time post-treatment, and diver health issues or outcomes.
We finished the Duke Medical Center Institutional Review Board (IRB) waiver to begin collecting survey data in July, 2011. The survey was launched on September 30, 2011 with the support of PADI, Duke Dive Medicine, and VR Technology. The survey tool was taken offline on February 1, 2012 and the data is being analyzed for publication later this year. Fundraising has begun for Phase II so please consider a donation.
1. Cook, S. Women’s Health and Scuba Diving. Retrieved January 20, 2011
2. PADI. PADI Statistics. Retrieved January 22, 2011
3. Gowen, L. Diving After Breast Cancer: Here’s A Look At DAN’s Survey. Alert Diver March/April 2004; Divers Alert Network. Retrieved January 22, 2011
4. Doolette, D. Psychometric testing of a health survey for field reporting of decompression outcome. Undersea Hyperb Med. 2000 Fall; 27(3) :137 – 142
DUHS IRB Pro#00031790