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Understanding Cancer Series

  • Posted: 12/29/2009

Slide 1



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.

Intro-Graphic shows a gloved hand carefully placing a tumor sample in a sterile storage vial.

Slide 2


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.

Graphic shows a patient giving her consent form to a health professional before her biopsy occurs. This will allow the tissue to be used for research.

Slide 3


Procure and Stabilize Sample

A biospecimen is removed from the patient, taking great care to keep the sample biologically viable.

Graphic shows the biopsy procedure where surgeons carefully remove tissue sample and stabilize it.

Slide 4


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.

Graphic shows how tumor sample from biopsy is given a unique barcode identifier is added to the tumor sample. This barcode ties sample to records.

Slide 5


Store Carefully

A biospecimen is carefully stored in a location that monitors temperature and conditions to properly support the integrity of the tissue.

Graphic shows how the tumor sample is carefully stored in liquid nitrogen to preserve its viability.

Slide 6


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.

Graphic shows how a researcher retrieves sample carefully to perform studies of tissue and returns remaining tissue to storage.

Slide 7


Best Practices

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:

Graphic shows how health professionals can carefully move through all stages from tissue procurement, through study and return to storage. All are the NCI best practices. Link to best practices for tissue is then provided.