I truly love CR magazine. It’s a relatively new publication of the American Association for Cancer Research. Since I’ve been involved in the Scientist-Survivor Program, I’ve been able to meet the staff of the magazine…unbelievable to me how such a small staff is able to turn out such a quality publication. Their most recent issue has an article about donating our tumor specimens for scientific research.

Until the last conference I attended at the AACR’s annual meeting, I’d never really thought about donating tumor specimens. Anna Barker, the Deputy Director of the NCI talked to the survivors and advocates at the latest conference about the need for patients to know what happens to their tumors when they are removed, how they are preserved if saved, who has access to them, where they are stored.

As a nurse, most surgical consents I have patients sign have a general clause releasing rights to all tissues removed from the patient’s body. I’m guessing my own surgical consent said something to the same effect. I think I’m like most cancer patients; we want our tumors removed, and assume they are disposed of…good riddance. We want our tumors gone and destroyed.

After becoming familiar with cancer genomics with and the Cancer Genome Atlas project via my involvement in the Scientist-Survivor Program, though, I now would care now what happened to my excised tumor, how it was preserved. In the best of worlds, all of our removed tumors would be preserved in their most usable form and be accessible to all doing cancer research. Maybe scientific and pharmaceutical access to our tumor specimens would advance the science of cancer research and help to one day find a cure for our cancers.

For a great article on the subject, read “What Happens to a Donated Tumor?” in the current issue of CR Magazine. Very thought-provoking. Something we really need to think about as cancer patients and survivors. We need to make our struggle count, we need to help someone else not have to face what we have faced.