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Have You Considered Donating Your Child’s Tumor to Cancer Research?

Why donating your child’s discarded tumor tissue will make a difference?  

Childhood cancers are rare, and our ability to find new treatments is limited due to the small number of patient-relevant tissue samples studied in the laboratory. Additionally, even when the diagnosis of tumor type might be the same, there are differences in the DNA between patients. Some of these differences can come from a genetic background or environmental effects on the patient’s tumor. These differences can result in variability in treatment response. Finally, some of the tumor cells used by scientists are as many as 30 years old. Over time, they may have changed and could be different from the patient’s tumors originally obtained.

What is our goal for using your discarded tumor cells?

Our goal is to understand the causes and to find better treatments for childhood cancer. We will achieve this by providing researchers in Texas and all over the world with disease-relevant tumor cells. We will take donated tumors and expand them in the laboratory, making tumor cells available to any scientist studying pediatric cancer. By sharing freely with other scientists, research using your donated samples will provide new insights, ultimately leading to better, less toxic therapies. We are also committed to sequencing the DNA of a subset of the donated tumors to discover the unique changes in tumor DNA when compared to normal healthy tissues. We will freely share the sequencing data with other researchers, speeding up studies into future treatments.

Your child’s tumors may provide the following insights:

  • Define the genes causing cancers in children.
  • Match specific treatments to patients based on the unique mutations in the DNA present in tumors.
  • Discover new biomarkers or genes expressed in response to treatments, which may help doctors decide if a particular treatment is working.
  • Result in the discovery of drugs that cause fewer side effects.

Please note: Research takes time, and what we collectively learn from many tumors will help children diagnosed with cancer in the future.

Are there risks involved in donating your issue? How does GCCRI protect your privacy?

No, since we collect discarded tissue after any clinical tests are conducted, there are no risks to the patient. Additionally, we are required by law to protect you and your child’s identity. When we receive any tumor cells from the doctor, they will remove any patient identifiers. To help researchers study a particular tumor, researchers may have access to general details such as the type of tumor, the age, and gender of the patient, the type of treatment(s) he or she received. For more information, please refer to the links below. They provide guidelines set by the government for informing you of your rights and getting consent.

Cancer.gov, Providing Your Tissue for Research: What You Need To Know

National Cancer Institute: How You Can Help Medical Research

Have we already started collecting tumors?

Yes, and we would like to thank our childhood cancer heroes for donating their tumors! Currently, we have collected over 50 childhood cancers, including rare tumors of bone, liver, brain, and blood. Over the past several decades, our researchers have distributed pediatric cancer models to laboratories worldwide that have facilitated important breakthroughs in our understanding of genetic alterations that cause childhood cancers and have resulted in novel therapies.

How is tissue or tumor collected?

When your child is treated for their malignancy, the surgeon will operate to remove the tumor or need to collect blood to run clinical tests. This sample, once removed, is typically discarded and lost. We can request that your doctor provide us excess tumor samples to donate for research purposes with your consent.

Arranging a tumor donation

If you would like to donate your child’s tumor for research, please contact Daniel Robles at UT Health San Antonio so that we can work with your child’s doctor to collect discarded tumor tissue.

Daniel Robles
Research Coordinator-Senior • Greehey CCRI