Aims: A core requirement of translational cancer research is access to human tissue. The Wollongong Hospital Biobank was established in 2014 as part of the Centre for Oncology Education & Research Translation (CONCERT), a consortium of multi-institutional partners involving Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) and South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD), Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research and two Sydney universities. In this qualitative study we review our initial experience, with a particular focus of identifying patient barriers to consenting for biobanking.
Methods: We reviewed the records of all patients contacted by the biobanking officers for the first 18 months following establishment of the biobank. We examined consent rates, patient characteristics, and number and type of biospecimens collected. A comparison of the characteristics of patients who consented to banking to those who declined was then attended to identify patient populations less likely to participate in biobanking.
Results: We have collected 847 biospecimens, including surgical tissues (fresh frozen primary tumour and nearby normal tissues), formalin fixed/paraffin embedded surgical tissues, and corresponding blood samples (whole blood, plasma, serum, and buffy coat) from 49 patients (14 oesophago-gastric, 25 head and neck, and 10 central nervous system cancers). The mean age of participants was 64.8 (range 22 – 88), with a male predominance (68.8%), reflecting the patient population of included cancers. The participation rate was very high (91%), consistent with the experience of other cancer specific biobanks. Patients who declined biobanking were more likely to be older (mean age 78, p=0.04), and to be from a non-English speaking background (NESB) (60% compared to 6%, p<0.001).
Conclusions: We report the initial experience of our regional tertiary hospital cancer biobank. In our cohort, older patients, and those with NESB were less likely to participate in biobanking.