Using Cancer Tissue for Research

Updated: Mar 27, 2019



Why tissue collection is important

We have learned that even within patients with the same type of cancer there are differences in how the disease progresses and how treatment works. One of the reasons for studying cancer tissues is to measure the biological characteristics of the tissue—meaning the genetic mutations, antigens, and proteins in the tumor—to understand if these biological characteristics contribute to differences in disease progression and treatment success.

Collecting and studying cancer tissues also allows researchers to determine whether different risk factors—such as obesity, diabetes, ultraviolet radiation, certain immune conditions and infections—are related to the biological characteristics found in a tumor.

Evaluating tissues in this way can provide a wealth of information about the biologic processes that cause a cancer to develop. It is our hope the knowledge gained will help to advance our understanding of cancer and improve the ability to prevent those cancers from developing.

How the CTS is using tissue samples in a non-Hodgkin lymphoma project

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded the California Teachers Study to conduct a study on the biological characteristics of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) using tissue samples from study participants. You can find more about why the NIH supports tissue sample research by clicking here.

CTS researchers have teamed up with the American Cancer Society, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital to evaluate whether certain NHL risk factors are specific to any biological characteristics found within the cancer tissue.

When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the hospital uses the biopsy or tissue to make decisions about treatment and stores any tissue that is left. If you have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we may reach out to ask for your permission to use some of that extra tissue for research. If you agree to participate, our staff will directly contact the hospital to retrieve the tissue needed for research.

By collecting lymphoma tissues from California Teachers Study participants and comparing the biological characteristics of your tumor tissue with the questionnaire data you have provided over the last 20 years, we will be able to examine whether the different molecular characteristics in lymphoma tissues are due to different risk factors. In other words, this study will help us better understand whether certain risk factors increase your chance of getting a specific type of NHL. We hope that by examining everything from twenty years of study data to the specific diagnoses of lymphoma patients to small pieces of tumor from study participants all the way down to the biological characteristics of those tumors we can better understand what causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

To learn more about how to participate in this study, visit our NHL Project page.

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