Helen Sewell Tumour Bank

In April 2014 Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA launched the first breast cancer specific tumour bank in Western Australia in conjunction and partnership with Western Diagnostic Pathology.  Our bank has been named in honour of generous benefactor, Helen Sewell, whose donation enabled this project to go from concept stage to reality.  Throughout the world, cancer centres of excellence are establishing Tumour Banks of solid cancers that affect men and women, in a collaborative effort to understand cancer behaviour and ultimately improve survival.

Peter Willsher operatingWhat is a breast tumour bank?

A “Breast Tumour Bank” comprises of a storage site of small samples of breast tumour and its surrounding tissues that were removed at the time of breast cancer surgery.

Am I eligible?

Eligible donors are defined as:

• Breast cancer patients who have had their breast surgery at the Mount Hospital or Hollywood Private Hospital.
• Subsequent treatment and follow-up is also at the Mount Hospital or Hollywood Private Hospital.

Consenting and privacy

Written consent is obtained from patients before their definitive surgery or biopsy.  Your Oncologist or Breast Surgeon will discuss this with you if you would like to donate a portion of your sample for future research.

All information pertaining to patients is confidential and secure.  At the Tumour Bank, samples are banked with non-identifying information using laboratory accession numbers and other local identifiers.  When researchers request tumour samples to work on, these samples are also de-identified.

All staff at BCRC-WA, pertaining to this Tumour Bank, have signed a confidentiality agreement to ensure privacy is upheld.

How does the Helen Sewell Breast Tumour Bank differ from others?

iStock_000020936859_MediumA unique feature of our endeavour is that the samples are linked to patient demographic information and treatments given to the patient.  The utmost importance of linking sophisticated molecular research and relating it to individual treatments given to the patients, will ultimately improve patient outcomes for all with this research.


The role of the Ethics Officer is to manage all ethics related issues for all the clinical trials and research that are undertaken by BCRC-WA.  For the Helen Sewell Tumour Bank, it involves ensuring initial approval by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), timely submission to HREC of all important safety data, and amendments when a project is ongoing.  The Ethics Officer also ensures all documentation is in place and safely secured at the offices of BCRC-WA.

Applications are received from researchers who have approved qualifications and demonstrated experience in research.  Research should be for protocol-specified cancer studies which have been approved by an established human research and ethics committee.  All applications will be assessed for scientific merit, feasibility of study and adequacy of funding for the project by the BCRC-WA Research Committee.  Conditions of use of these samples follow stringent guidelines, please contact our Ethics Officer, on info@bcrc-wa.com.au for more information.

Revocation of consent

Patients can withdraw at any time without providing a reason.
Please email  info@bcrc-wa.com.au to advise that you would like a Revocation of Consent form or alternatively ring 6500 5501

Please post to:
Attention: Helen Sewell Tumour Bank
PO Box 141

Your sample is important to us and if you care to give feedback for the reason for withdrawal, or just general comments about our research, please email as above.


BCRC-WA is a registered not-for-profit organisation, constituted to enable research into all aspects of breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and patient education and support. To date we have almost 3000 samples banked and we are greatly encouraged by the eagerness of every patient to be part of this project.  We need financial help to continue this research, and to aid future projects that will utilise this resource.  If you would consider donating, to ensure the longevity of the tumour bank, please click here.