Cancer is a disease 0f abnormal genes within cells.
All normal cells live, grow, and function normally due to the many genes within the cell that control cell behavior. Cancer cells are abnormal because they have abnormalities within some of these genes that lead to abnormal growth and multiplication of these cells to form tumors, and spread of these cells to other parts of the body which can ultimately lead to loss of life. With the advent of many scientific techniques in the past few decades the ability to detect these abnormal genes and the abnormal proteins or other messages that result from these genetic changes can be found in tumor cells.
However, cancer is a complex family of diseases and the genes that are abnormal in one patient’s tumor cells may be similar or completely different than someone with a similar type of cancer. If researchers are to find new therapies that improve the treatment of patients with cancer we need to understand all of the different abnormalities, and develop therapies that specifically target the abnormalities that lead to abnormal cancer cell growth and spread. Indeed several recent “targeted-therapies” were discovered based on research on tumor specimens from a Tumor Bank.
What is a Tumor Bank?
A tumor bank is a collection of many hundreds of patients tumor specimens that are stored for future use and research to understand the biology of cancer as well as research to identify new targets for the development of new therapies.
Many of the new targets or therapies used and approved for the treatment of patients with cancer were discovered by examining a large number of tumor specimens from a tumor bank, and identifying important proteins, genes, and other markers that led to the development of, or growth of cancer cells. Medicines such as trastuzumab for the treatment of breast cancer, erlotinib for the treatment of lung and pancreatic cancer, and ceutximab or panitumumab for the treatment of colon cancer required the identification of key proteins in tumor cells that were analyzed from tumor bank specimens.
What is the START Tumor Bank?
The START tumor bank is being created to make tumor tissue gifted by patients receiving care or treatment at STOH or START available to all researchers involved in developing a better understanding of the biology of cancer or those engaged in the discovery
of new therapies.
The tissue we are seeking has already been obtained from your body when you had your surgery or biopsy and we are not asking you to undergo another procedure.
The START tumor bank is different than other tumor banks. The majority of new anticancer drug development is performed by researchers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, researchers in non-profit or charitable institutes, and not within the University setting. However, almost all tumor banks are confined to university academic centers and the tissue is only available to those specific researchers at that institution.
The mission of the START tumor bank is to make available tumor specimens to all researchers actively engaged in cancer research whether they are in University, Academic, or Pharmaceutical industry, with a goal to accelerate the discovery and development of new agents for the treatment and cure of cancer.
Your gift of tumor tissue and the results from research may not benefit you personally but rather provide an important tool for future research that may benefit future generations with better treatment. Your gift is entirely voluntary and you are under no obligation to donate your tumor tissues to the START tumor bank. Your choice not to participate will not in any way alter the care you receive from your doctor or nurses—it is strictly voluntary.
Your gift will be anonymous to the researchers performing the work.
For any research you will remain anonymous and your confidentiality will be protected. Since many important questions for researchers relate to the nature of a patients age, gender, type of cancer, and the results of your care including whether the cancer has recurred, the treatment you might have received and the success of this treatment, this information will be provided without your identity being disclosed and other parts of your medical history will remain confidential.
How Can I Donate My Tumor to the START Tumor Bank?
If you are interested in providing us with a gift of your tumor tissue, please let your doctor or nurse know and they can provide you with more information, answer questions and obtain your approval (consent).
You may withdraw your consent at anytime however once the tumor tissue has been collected and processed using some specific procedures it cannot be destroyed without risking other patients tissues. Rather, if you wish that it not be used the results from any analysis will not be used.
The availability of human tissue is crucial for cancer research. With little or no risk and no charge to the patient, our researchers can establish the START Tissue Bank, which will store tissues acquired from patients at STOH and START at the time of a diagnostic procedure. All data collected will be strictly confidential and all privacy laws will be followed.