Forsaking cures for cancer: why are we discarding the tumour biospecimens of most patients?

Craig Gedye and Jennifer Fleming
Med J Aust 2016; 204 (8): . || doi: 10.5694/mja15.00961
Published online: 2 May 2016

Discarding patients’ cancer samples because of problems with consent processes forgoes potential advances in cancer research, ignores public intent and squanders unique bioresources

Cancers are highly variable — between different types of cancer, between different patients’ cancers and even between different cancer cells within an individual patient’s cancer.1 A critical challenge facing cancer research and therapy is to understand and overcome the heterogeneity of each patient’s cancer. Resected tumours and other samples donated by patients with cancer provide invaluable bioresources for the study of cancer heterogeneity. While animal models and in vitro studies generate therapeutic hypotheses, only confirmation in human cancers can ratify targets as relevant to pursue into the clinic.

  • Craig Gedye1,2
  • Jennifer Fleming3,4

  • 1 Medical Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW
  • 2 School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW
  • 3 Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
  • 4 Sydney Catalyst, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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