Donating tissue for research

Why Tissue is Needed for Cancer Research

Researchers studying cancer need tissue for many different reasons. Some researchers may develop new tests to find cancer. Others may develop new ways to avoid or treat cancers. In the future, some of the research may help to develop new medicines. Research done with tissue may look for genes that cause cancer or predict whether a treatment may be effective. In the future, some of the research may help to develop new medicines.

Where to donate samples and who to contact

At present there is no central place to contact. You could start by asking your care team (consultant, nurses, GP, etc) if there is a local cancer biobank or specific study underway in your area that you can donate samples to.

You could look at the list of Confederation of Cancer Biobanks members to see if there is a member bank close to where you live and contact them. Alternatively contact us to see if we can help.

How to donate

Before a person is asked to donate tissue samples they must  give their permission or “consent” for their samples to be used in research. Consent is a process that involves information being provided to the potential donor, usually in a patient information  sheet, before the person is asked to give their consent.

Specifically trained healthcare professionals should be  available to answer any questions that you have. If you are happy to proceed, these healthcare professionals  will then take you through a consent form and ask  you to sign it.

As well as using the tissue or blood sample itself,  information about your medical history, diagnosis and  treatment is very important to researchers and you will also be asked to provide consent for the use of this information.
When this information is passed on to researchers  it will be anonymised so that your identity is protected.

You usually do not need to have any extra procedures to  donate tumour tissue. Following your biopsy or operation only tissue that is not needed for your ongoing care is  provided to the researcher or tissue bank.  This tissue would otherwise be discarded as clinical waste.