At St James’s Hospital, patients with a known diagnosis or possible diagnosis of cancer give consent to a cancer specialist nurse or surgeon to take tissue samples for research (see Consent form, Patients section). As soon as the surgeon completes the operation, the operation specimen – breast lump/mastectomy or colon – is taken rapidly to the histopathology department. The pathologist examines it and samples some surplus tissue – cancer and normal – for the biobank scientist to prepare for the biobank. Coded data on the sample and pathology – when completed – are entered in the database.
In the first year, the St James’s Hospital Cancer Biobank collected samples from 150 patients with breast cancer and colon cancer. To date, 3500 frozen samples have been collected, and will be available for multiple projects. This has been achieved by the willing cooperation of many members of the hospital staff, including senior management.
Funds donated to Biobank Ireland paid the biobank scientist’s salary for 4 years, and this is now a hospital post. Cork and Galway University Hospitals participated in designing the Consent Form, Patient Information Leaflet and Sample Access Policy, all of which were also approved by the Data Protection Commissioner’s Office and National Cancer Registry. Funding for the Cork and Galway University Hospital biobanks is urgently needed.