The Breast Cancer Tissue Bank is the UK’s largest unique collection of high-quality breast tissue, breast cells and blood samples from breast cancer patients.

It’s these samples that are giving scientists the chance to get as close to the disease as possible – so they can find the cures for breast cancer.

As well as access to tissue, scientists can request anonymised data linked to the sample, including if the donor’s breast cancer has progressed and the treatments they’ve received. The Tissue Bank also provides open access to a wealth of data on breast cancer research, through our bioinformatics portal, helping scientists across the globe to get the most out of their research.

Tissue bank facts

Established: 2010

Number of samples: 42,000

Tissue bank centres: 

Why do we need the breast cancer Tissue Bank?

When the world’s leading scientists told us that the biggest barrier to finding the cures for breast cancer was a lack of access to high-quality tissue, we were determined to do something about it.

Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK. This year alone, 50,000 people will find out they have it and around 11,500 women and 80 men will die from breast cancer – that’s nearly 1,000 deaths each month. By collecting and storing breast cancer samples consistently, and giving scientists access to the tissue they need, we can make results more reliable and bring greater benefits to people, faster.

How do I donate my breast tissue?

Donating tissue and blood to the Tissue Bank is voluntary. If you are having breast surgery in one of our Tissue Bank centres (see list at top of page for locations), a nurse or patient volunteer may ask if you are willing to donate any tissue, and answer any questions you may have.

Giving consent to donate your tissue, or withholding your consent, will not affect your care or treatment in any way, and your details will remain strictly confidential.

We are extremely grateful to everyone who gives their permission for us to keep a small amount of their tissue that’s not needed to help with their care. 

We can’t accept donations of tissue to the Tissue Bank if you are not being treated at a Tissue Bank Centre.

If you’re interested in participating in research, please ask your nurse or doctor as you may be able to participate in another study.

Results from the Tissue Bank

Since opening, the Breast Cancer Tissue Bank has collected almost 42,000 samples from around 10,200 patients. More than 8,500 samples have been used in or allocated to research projects.

Three scientific papers have been published that describe the findings of research conducted using samples from the Tissue Bank. So we are starting to see the impact of using these samples to better understand and develop more effective treatments for breast cancer.

We still need your support to keep investing in the Tissue Bank

The Tissue Bank receives a huge amount of support from Asda and Walk the Walk as founding partners.

Breast Cancer Now has committed a further £1.7 million per year to the Tissue Bank until July 2018. We still need further support and donations to keep investing in the Tissue Bank – please donate now.

More information

Are you a researcher in the UK or Ireland? Find out more on the Tissue Bank website