Find out the history of the Tissue Bank, our work and how you can get in touch with us. 

The Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank currently has more than 52,000 samples donated from over 12,000 patients available to breast cancer researchers worldwide. Without these patients consenting for their samples and data to be stored and shared, researchers would not be able to carry out world-class research that will help us achieve our mission that everyone diagnosed with breast cancer lives – and is supported to live well.

Why do we need the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank?

Our Gap Analysis, published in 2008, asked world-leading breast cancer scientists and patient representatives about the biggest gaps preventing them in advancing their breast cancer research. Overwhelmingly, the answer was 'easy access to more and better quality tissue samples and data provided by patients with breast cancer.' We were determined to solve this and so we set up the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank.

Scientists need to be able to study breast tissue samples, breast cells and blood from patients to understand how breast cancer behaves, grows and spreads. It is important for breast cancer cells and tissues to be compared with non-cancerous cells and tissues from the breast. This is why we collect from patients without a diagnosis of breast cancer as well.

We also provide anonymised data linked to each sample, such as tumour grade and stage, response to treatment and survival. We also aim to catch follow-up data for each of the patients which will inform researchers of the progress of the patient throughout their treatment. 

Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK; every year over 55,000 women and around 350 men will be diagnosed and around 11,500 women and 80 men will lose their lives to the disease. By consistently collecting and storing breast cancer samples, we can give scientists access to the tissue they need, making research faster and more reliable and bringing greater benefits to patients.

Tissue Bank centres

The Tissue Bank is hosted by Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, as the Lead Operational Centre, with collecting centres based at:

The Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank is generously supported by the patients who donate their samples to the bank and by funding from Asda Tickled Pink and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Tissue Bank impact

We follow the progress of the researchers who have applied for tissue from the Tissue Bank.  Find the titles of all the studies our tissue has been granted access for. A list of the research papers related to the Tissue Bank, including studies that have used material from the Bank, are available in the resources section.

Tissue Bank Advisory Council

The Tissue Bank Advisory Council advises on the scientific strategy of the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank and its implementation. The council comprises of patients, leading scientists, researchers, and bioinformaticians from the breast cancer and biobanking fields worldwide.

The Chair of the Tissue Bank Advisory Council is Professor Wayne. A. Phillips, University of Melbourne.

To find out more about the Council, please get in touch with us.

Tissue Access Committee

Our Tissue Access Committee reviews each application for samples to ensure that the samples are used for good-quality research. For each application Breast Cancer Now and the Tissue Access Committee will ask the following questions:

  • Does the research have the potential to benefit breast cancer patients? Are there any significant risks to releasing the samples?
  • Has the project for which samples will be used been peer-reviewed by an AMRC-registered charity or equivalent?
  • Is ethical cover in place for the work?
  • Will the application significantly deplete the Tissue Bank's sample stock?

The Chair of the Access Committee is Dr Julia Gee, Cardiff University.

For more detail on review processes see the Tissue Access Policy in our resources section.

How we can help

If you need any other help using our website or require any more information on the Tissue Bank, get in touch via email and one of the Research Resources Team will get back to you. 

Breast Cancer Now
Fifth Floor, Ibex House
42-47 Minories

Telephone: 0333 20 70 300
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