Proper biospecimen handling is the first essential element in the drive toward personalized medicine for cancer. The molecular changes trapped in cancer biospecimens provide insightful clues about what went wrong in a patient's cells. It is critically important to understand how to collect cancer biospecimens properly, so that the information obtained from analyses, using approaches such as genome-wide profiling, are correct and not artifacts of mishandling.
Get Patient Consent
Health professionals explain to the patient that their tissue donation is very important to accelerating progress in cancer research. When permission is given, the consent form is archived carefully and uniquely linked to the sample.
Procure and Stabilize Sample
A biospecimen is removed from the patient, taking great care to keep the sample biologically viable.
Attach Unique Identifier
A unique identifier is associated with the biospecimen. Unique identifiers link the tissue sample with its relevant annotated records, so future results from studies using this sample can again be associated with the original patient donor.
A biospecimen is carefully stored in a location that monitors temperature and conditions to properly support the integrity of the tissue.
Retrieve and Re-store Carefully
When needed for analysis, a biospecimen is carefully retrieved, and if any sample remains afterward, it is re-stored with care.
By properly labeling the tissue sample, fully recording discoveries associated with the tissue, and following the National Cancer Institute's best practices guidelines for handling the material, health professionals can ensure that a cancer biospecimen is of the highest quality when it is used for genome-wide profiling or other research studies.
For more details on the best practices in biospecimen collection please see: http://biospecimens.cancer.gov