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  • Providing continuing education for cancer researchers
    Providing continuing education for cancer researchers
  • Bringing doctors and scientists together
    Bringing doctors and scientists together
  • Improving the care of kids with cancer
    Improving the care of kids with cancer


Cancer research is dependent on the availability of high-quality cancer specimens, to use in laboratory-based investigations.

What is a Tumour Bank?
A Tumour Bank is a collection of specimens from patients, obtained with their consent and through the normal course of their treatment. These samples are placed in long-term storage and made available to research scientists for studies into cancer.

In NSW, there are two child cancer Tumour Banks – one at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and one at the Children’s Cancer Institute . Both of these organisations are partners in the Kids Cancer Alliance.
(For information about other Tumour Banks in NSW, see

What are the child cancer Tumour Banks used for?
Our Tumour Banks provide specimens for many different research groups, locally, nationally and internationally. By providing samples to researchers, the Tumour Banks help to:

  • build understanding of the molecular mechanisms that lead to cancers in children
  • develop tests that enable screening for those children at an increased risk of cancer
  • establish new molecular-based diagnostic tests to help clinicians select the most appropriate treatment for each child
  • identify targets for potential new cancer treatments.

What do the Tumour Banks contain?
The Tumour Banks contain a diverse selection of high-quality malignant and non-malignant tissue specimens, along with clinical data obtained by dedicated tumour bank staff that follow strict procedures and ethical guidelines.
The collections include:

  • tumour samples and, where possible, matched control blood or tissue samples
  • blood samples from children with malignancies
  • serial collections of blood, bone marrow and cerebrospinal fluid from children with leukaemia.

How are samples collected and stored?
Samples contributed by a patient (for example, during the course of a biopsy) are transferred to special low-temperature cryogenic vials and immediately snap-frozen in liquid nitrogen. This process preserves the proteins and genetic material within the sample. Once frozen, the samples are coded, placed in numbered boxes, and stored in a freezer at -80ºC.

Each sample is recorded on the Tumour Bank database. Information recorded includes:

  • age of the patient, and age at diagnosis
  • type of cancer
  • history of the cancer
  • results of pathology tests
  • type of treatment received.

The child’s name does not appear on the sample. The child and family remain entirely anonymous to all researchers who use Tumour Bank specimens. However, if the findings of the research are deemed likely to help with a child’s treatment, the coding on each sample enables Tumour Bank staff to forward the relevant results to the doctor caring for that child.