A tumour bank is an entity that organizes the collection, storage and distribution of tumour and normal tissue samples for basic and translational cancer research. Samples are usually obtained from histopathology and cytology laboratories that receive specimens for biopsies and diagnostic surgeries.

The tissue and data bank of the FRQS’s Cancer Research Network was set up to respond to a major need for rapid access to biological samples and related clinical data. It is distributed in several hospital institutions (in Montreal, Quebec and Sherbrooke). RRCANCER-BTD  members provide normal, malignant and benign specimens from routine surgery resections and blood samples. Blood and tissue samples are collected by provincial biobanks on a regular availability basis for coding, classification and storage. Samples may be provided to the investigator in fresh, frozen, paraffin or slide form. The sharing of information and biological material is coordinated according to ethical rules and contributes to enhancing the value of research in Quebec.

At sites of participating institutions, potential donors are advised of the opportunity to donate tissue and blood samples. If the patient agrees to become a donor, this information is passed to the tumour bank and arrangements are made for an interview. Interested patients meet with designated staff to explain the local tumour bank program and obtain consent. A blood sample may be required at this time and a questionnaire may be completed. When relevant, the participating hospital will contact the tumour bank specifying the date of the operation. To ensure the quality of the tissue, it is collected once the pathologist has made their diagnosis. The tissue is immediately frozen and transported for further treatment and storage.

The choice to donate excess tissue, blood samples and or possibly other bodily fluids for future research is yours. Whatever your decision, it will not affect your care. You will also be able to take part in clinical trials if you wish.

Once the sample has been obtained from a member bank of the RRCancer and the appropriate health information has been received from you and your clinician, a numbered code will be assigned to your sample that no longer allows association with your name. All your health information will also be coded to create anonymity. All data remains coded during storage and use. No identifying information is available for those who work with the data and tissues inside or outside the tumour bank.

If the donor chooses to withdraw, the local tumour bank will destroy all remaining samples and health data identifying the individual. Where samples have been sent for research, non-identifying minimum information will be retained for scientific validation. No other samples will be shipped. Unfortunately, it is impossible to attempt to recover the material already shipped.

When search data is available to authorized researchers, it is coded: thus it does not contain any information that can be used to identify you and a researcher will never be able to contact you. Also, the research results will be published or presented to scientific groups, but you will not be identified in these publications or presentations. Information on the research studies in which your data or samples were used is required by the RRCancer for all research.

The reference between your name and the code used to anonymize your samples and information will be kept secure and will only be available to the local bank manager and/or authorized personnel. By this mechanism, we are able to identify you in cases where we would need to contact you and inform you about the results of our studies that reveal a possible medical blessing for you. This mechanism also allows us to remove all your personal information from the database and to identify your samples so that they are destroyed if you wish to cancel your consent.

The information accompanying the sample concerns the age, the sex of the patient, the diagnosis of the surgical pathology and the diagnosis of the quality control of the tissues that have been sent for research.

The human tissue collected by a member bank of RRCancer can be used for basic, translational and epidemiological research. We invite you to visit this website to better understand the implications of tissue donation in the fight against cancer.

The law affects and regulates standards and conduct of research involving human subjects in a variety of fields, such as privacy, confidentiality, intellectual property and many other areas. Human rights legislation prohibits discrimination in a variety of areas. In addition, several research ethics papers prohibit discrimination and recognize the application of equal treatment as fundamental. Research Ethics Boards (REBs) must also respect the spirit of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly the sections dealing with life, liberty and security of persons as well as those involving equality and discrimination.

This legal context for research involving human subjects is constantly evolving and varies from one jurisdiction to another. For this reason, researchers, institutions and RECs need to use expertise to identify legal issues in an ethical review process.

However, the legal and ethical approach to these issues can lead to different conclusions. The law tends to force one to follow the standards of conduct. The goal of ethics is to promote high standards of conduct through an awareness of her values that she can develop through her practice and with which she may have to make choices and be responsible for her mistakes. Moreover, although ethical approaches cannot take precedence over law enforcement, they may favourably affect the future development or negotiation of certain situations beyond the scope of the law.

Your donation is important in the fight against cancer, however in the foreseeable future donors should not expect immediate benefit to their health. The use of tissues / blood / bodily fluids includes benefits for research such as the opportunity to learn more about the causes of cancer and other diseases and how to prevent, treat and treat them. Unfortunately, many of these searches take years to complete. Research done with your donation may not help you directly. All RRCancer members offer donors the option of asking to be contacted if a significant scientific discovery leads to clinically valid benefits for the donor. Publications of discoveries made from sample donations will be available on our website in the news section, recent publications. It is more likely that your donation will provide a benefit to people who will have cancer or other diseases in the future.

Any research that involves human tissue and its associated data requires review and approval by an ethics committee for CER research in accordance with the inter-advisory policy. See: Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics, before that research begins.

Quebec researchers wishing to become RRCancer members are invited to contact the Network Director, Dr. Anne-Marie Mes-Masson.

Follow this link to download the Membership Form

RRCancer anticipates that the majority of research facilitated through access to its tissue banks will be conducted in Canada. RRCancer is part of the Canadian Tumor Bank Network (CTRNet) and makes its resources available to Canadian researchers. If you are outside Canada and are interested in obtaining CTRNet material, visit the CTRNet website

Serum, plasma, leukocytes and platelets (buffy coat) are often available. Uncoagulated blood samples (in small quantities) may also be available. Local biobanks will determine if the quantity requested meets the availability criteria.

Several RRcancer member banks are able to create microarrays (TMAs) for their research. If you need TMAs, contact the RRCancer Director for more information. Dr. Anne-Marie Mes-Masson

The time taken to ship material is difficult to predict exactly. It will depend on the requirements of your protocol, as well as the availability of requested samples as well as the number of investigators requesting the same type of tissue. By using the CTRNet portal, you will be able to submit your request for material and CTRNet will be aware of it immediately and will provide an initial response on the possibility of completing the request within 10 working days. Additional information may be required. If you submit a research project for funding, the RRCancer can provide a report on the availability of the requested samples to attach to your funding submission. No material may be shipped without first confirmation of project acceptance and approval by the Research Ethics Board.

Québec researchers have access to RRCancer samples for a small handling fee for the service they provide. Clinical information, sample preparation and shipping costs entail certain costs that will have to be paid for by researchers requesting samples. For researchers outside the province of Quebec, we invite you to visit the CTRNet website.

Researchers may request samples that meet their research criteria including disease site selection, type of biological material and availability of clinical history. All information associated with the transferred samples must meet the ethical, privacy and consent rules.