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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS

1. Doesn't my hospital / pathology / doctor store my tumor?

Hospitals generally keep only a very small piece of the tumor for their own purposes, and usually it’s preserved in paraffin (dead). In contrast, StoreMyTumor preserves as much tumor as possible in various formats, frozen viable,  frozen fixed, and/ or in paraffin. This is because different application require different formats. StoreMyTumor maximizes the opportunities patients have to use their tissue for their own benefit.

Many patients ask the surgeon/oncologist/hospital if the hospital will store their tumor, and the answer is typically a misleadingly yes. This is because hospitals preserve a small part in paraffin (dead), but not in multiple formats.  Only some large cancer centers preserve tumors frozen fixed (not alive), but this is not for patient use, it is rather for internal research projects that help advance science.

StoreMyTumor preserves tumor is multiple formats, and for the patient to use and benefit from.

2. My cancer will change and mutate over time (and when subjected to treatments), so will my preserved tumor be of any use?

Yes, absolutely, AND in most cases, the preserved tumor is the best and only available option to work with.  The only exception is for genetic testing (targeted treatments) – where it is better to get a fresh biopsy (when available) to work with.

First, it is important to note that, as tumors change, they add mutations and therefore continue to express the older unique mutations (targets).   

Second, how the tumor changes depends on the tumor type and how it responds to the specific therapeutic pressures. Some are affected and some are not, so we do not know if the new tumor is always significantly changed.

Thirdly, it is important to also note that harnessing new tumor is not always feasible. Patient may not have sufficient volume, tumor could be in a difficult place that is too dangerous to remove, patient could not be in good enough health to undergo surgery, etc… there are many scenarios and it is not that simple.

More specifically:

For cancer vaccines, vaccines made out of the patient’s previously stored tumor induce an immune response against ALL tumor associated antigens (the shared, known, unknown and the neo). Importantly, inducing an immune response against the old mutations (and not the ones present in the current tumor) has been shown to cause what is called ‘epitope or multi-functional spreading’ and also induces an immune response against the new antigens.  Vaccinating with the patient’s previously preserved tumor can induce an immune response against the entire repertoire of antigens – which is a plus.

For Adoptive T cell therapy, it has been shown that T cells which are isolated from primary tumors can still recognize and kill recurrent tumors (or mets).

For targeted therapies, oncologists are interested in identifying unique and clean targets, and so it is better to work with new tissue, so new biopsy when available, is better. Oncologists are often also equally interested in understanding how is the tumor changing, and for that purpose the preserved tumor is also useful.

For drug sensitivity, the preserved tumor is generally ok to use. Drug sensitivity testing require a large volume of tumor tissue that is often only available from a major surgery. A biopsy is typically not enough.

The bottom line is, tumors do change and mutate, but a previously preserved tumor has a huge value, and is almost always the only and best tissue to work with.

Learn why you should store your tumor and what your options are.

Let us send you our free resource guide.

Thank you!