If your loved one was treated for lung cancer at a community hospital, and has since died, you can help find new lung cancer treatments that might spare other families the anguish you’re feeling.
Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer. Fortunately, researchers have discovered several new therapies that are helping to turn metastatic lung cancer into a chronic illness instead of an automatic death sentence. Some of these therapies are effective for 70-80% of patients whose tumors have certain biomarkers .
Unfortunately, not all types of lung cancer have such effective treatments — yet. Researchers need to find more lung cancer biomarkers and develop more drugs to target them. Discovering these biomarkers and new therapies requires studying LOTS of lung cancer tumor tissue. If more tumor tissue from different patients were available for researchers to study, we might find new biomarkers and effective targeted therapies faster.
How can I help?
If your loved one was treated for lung cancer at a community hospital, and has since died, you can help by donating your loved one’s archived tumor tissue.
Researchers usually obtain tumor tissue from lung cancer biopsies and surgeries performed at their academic cancer centers. However, most lung cancer patients (about 80%) are treated at community and clinics, not academic cancer centers. Those hospitals generally just archive any tumor tissue that is not needed for guiding patient care, and destroy those tissues five to ten years after the patient has died. This means a lot of tumor tissue that could be used for finding new lung cancer therapies never gets to researchers.
The National Cancer Institute’s Lung Cancer SPORE at the University of Colorado (I’ll call it CU Lung SPORE for short) aims to help lung cancer researchers find cures faster. Like other NCI SPOREs, CU has a biorepository (some people may call it a biobank) where they store patient specimens and medical records. The biobank provides the tissues along with the important clinical background to scientists studying new ways to treat lung cancer, not only from the University of Colorado, but to institutions all around the country. Researchers can search for available specimens and request them for research projects.
The CU Lung SPORE created a pilot study to collect archived tumor tissue and medical records of deceased lung cancer patients, and place these in their biobank so that researchers can use them. This study focuses on deceased patients because they have no further need of the tissues (living patients may need their specimens for tumor testing later). The study needs five to ten more family members to submit signed release forms so we can complete the pilot study and assess whether this a feasible way to gather more lung cancer tumor tissue for research.
HIPAA laws forbid a research center from asking patients or family members about donating tissues and medical records if the patient wasn’t treated at their facility. But advocates (like me) CAN ask.
What do I have to do?
To participate, all you need do is:
- Download the release form (by clicking on this link Family member Release Form (revised 2016-06-23) and fill in some information about you, your loved one, and where your loved one was treated,
- Sign the release form, and
- Mail the completed, signed release form to:
- Mary K. Jackson
- Team Manager – Specialized Program of Research Excellence [SPORE]
- University of Colorado Cancer Center
- 13001 E 17th Place MS B-189
- Aurora, CO 80045
Filling in the release form only takes about 20 minutes (assuming you have to look up the contact information for the hospital). Pretty easy, isn’t it?
What happens next?
The SPORE will contact the hospital where your loved one was treated and request your loved one’s archived tissue and medical records. Once these documents are received at CU, they will be reviewed by the study team, de-identified (which means personally identifying information is removed), and placed in the CU Lung SPORE’s biobank.
PLEASE consider donating your deceased loved one’s archived lung cancer tissue and medical records for research through this project. You can learn more by contacting me (the patient advocate for the CU Lung SPORE) at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the CU Lung SPORE at the address above.
Do it to honor your loved one. Do it for the next family stricken by lung cancer. Whatever your reason, please do it. We’ve lost too many to this disease.
Note: This research study’s official project title is “Patient-Initiated Biobanking of Deceased Lung Cancer Patient Tissues” and its study number is COMIRB# 15-1294. It is not a clinical trial dealing with live patients, so you will not find it listed on clinicaltrials.gov.