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The fight against cancer

06 June 2009

Slides at the Wales Cancer BankSlides at the Wales Cancer Bank

Cutting-edge research in the fight against cancer and the progress made in tackling the disease is to be shared with the public as the Wales Cancer Bank celebrates its fifth anniversary.

Since its creation in 2003, the Wales Cancer Bank has revolutionised the opportunities for cancer research, collecting tissue and blood samples from more than 3000 cancer sufferers and people with a potential cancer diagnoses in Wales.

A collaborative project involving the School of Medicine, five Welsh NHS Trust collecting sites, the Welsh Assembly Government, Velindre NHS Trust and Cancer Research Wales, the aim of the Cancer Bank is to provide a scientific evidence base which will help advance understanding of the disease, create better treatments and generate a personalised level of care.

As it celebrates its fifth anniversary, the Cancer Bank will host a series of road shows across South Wales allowing members of the public to hear about the generosity of cancer patients in Wales, talk to staff involved in the project and find out more about how the samples are used.

The road shows take place on 8th, 9th and 10th June 2009 at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff; Singleton Hospital, Swansea; and Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest respectively.

Samples at the Wales Cancer BankSamples at the Wales Cancer Bank

Professor Malcolm Mason, Director of the Wales Cancer Bank said: "Over the last five years the Wales Cancer Bank project has helped researchers study ‘real life’, using samples from cancers in people, not laboratory cancers. Highlighting the benefits of this work to the people of Wales through the road shows is a way of thanking all those patients who have contributed to the project in the past and to show just how important it is in tackling this disease."

To date, the samples - all of which are anonymised - have been used by researchers in 25 projects around the world investigating all aspects of cancer, including how DNA alters in different types of breast cancer; the use of a particular protein as a potential new marker for the basis of a new diagnostic test for prostate cancer; and the genetic instability that drives the earliest stages of cancer.

Professor Mason said: "This is a huge challenge, because research will need to be performed on samples from very large numbers of patients, and the quality of these samples needs to be carefully tested and documented. This also needs to be an international effort and in the future the Wales Cancer Bank will be cementing existing links, and forging new links with colleagues from other similar initiatives in Europe and the USA.

"We are proud of the esteem in which we are held in the UK, as judged by the outcome of our recent inspection by the Human Tissue Authority and those national clinical trials for whom we host sample collections, and we are proud that, once again, Wales will continue to show the way in medical research."

The road shows are free and members of the public interested in attending can book a place by calling 02920 529226. More information is available online at

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