What happens to my tumor if I don’t store it in a tumor bank?
Generally, hospitals keep a small portion of the tumor for their own purposes and use in their pathology department. Afterward they may discard the tumor tissue or choose to preserve it. This is done using paraffin or by flash freezing it, neither of which keeps it alive and limits its use. Your tissue is like your fingerprint. Everyone’s is different and you have the right to own and control its use for your benefit. By storing it alive with SpeciCare, you can maximize the opportunities and create options that would otherwise not be available in your care.
How long will I be able to store my tissue?
Our precise cryopreserving process ensures your tumor tissue should remain viable (alive) indefinitely for your use.
Why is live tissue so important?
Many current treatments (TILs, cancer vaccines) and diagnostics (chemo sensitivity, organoids) require live cancer cells. TILs and cancer vaccines are manufactured from live cancer cells and are at the forefront of personalizing cancer treatment. Chemo sensitivity testing allows your care team to understand which chemo and drugs would work best for you personally by studying their response to your live cancer cells. Your tumor tissue must be collected at the time of your surgery, or other procedures, and stored alive to allow for these cutting edge, precision cancer treatment options.
Does it matter what type of tumor I have?
No, it doesn’t. All solid tumor tissue from all cancer types, in addition to ascites (fluid), can be cryopreserved.
Who will recommend the appropriate way to utilize my tumor tissue?
By choosing to store your valuable tumor tissue with SpeciCare, you will have control of how that tissue will be put to best use for your care. You and your care team will determine the best use of your tissue for your current and future care.
If my cancer transforms or is altered by chemo will my stored tissue still be effective in providing me options?
As tumors change, they add mutations and therefore continue to express the older unique mutations (targets). For example, cancer vaccines made out of the patient’s previously stored tumor mount an immune response against the mutated and non-mutated antigens, as well as the known and the unknown antigens. Vaccinating patients with the previously preserved tumor will still target the shared mutations on unique cancer cells and stimulate the immune system to induce an immune response against them. Also, inducing an immune response against the old mutations (and not the ones present in the current tumor) has been shown to cause what is called “epitope or multi-functional spreading” and induces an immune response against the new antigens. In short, vaccinating with the patient’s previously preserved tumor can induce an immune response against the entire repertoire of antigens.
Will my surgeon know how to collect my tumor tissue?
The SpeciCare process is designed to allow you peace of mind when you decide to take ownership of your care and store your tumor tissue viably. We have worked closely with numerous community hospitals and major cancer centers to ensure that our tumor collection and storage process has been designed to make things as simple as possible for you and your clinical team.
A SpeciKit with easy to follow detailed instructions for your clinical team will be sent to you, your provider or a loved one prior to your surgery. You bring it with you on the day of the procedure and give it to the appropriate person on your care team. Our patient advocates will coordinate the shipping details and logistics, and are available if you have any questions. Please feel free to contact us anytime the day of the procedure, since we are committed to what is best for you and your loved ones.
Can I still store my tumor tissue if I’ve had chemo?
Yes you can. If your doctor has scheduled you for surgery, that means there is still evidence of a tumor, even though you’ve undergone chemo. After we receive your tissue we cryopreserve only the cancerous tissue, and will trim away the tissue that has been killed by the chemo.
Does insurance cover the cost of tissue storage?
It is possible that your insurance company will reimburse you for some or all of the cost, but our patient advocates explain to patients that this is typically an out-of-pocket expense and we will supply you with an itemized bill for your use in submitting a claim.
How much tumor do you need?
There is no definitive answer, but our patient advocates simply tell our patients to store as much as possible. Since you have made the decision to use SpeciCare, the more tissue that is kept alive the more options you will have now and in the future. All tissue is of value to you, and even if you have a small tumor or biopsy (or are storing ascites/fluids), that does not necessarily mean that the number of cancer cells we will keep alive is small also. Please contact our patient advocates with any questions, as many factors play a role and can have an impact on your future care plans.
Do you ship kits outside the United States?
Yes we do. Please contact one of our patient advocates for assistance.
How do I access my tumor when I need it?
You are our number one priority, and when you and your care team determine how best to use your viable tumor tissue, contact one of our patient advocates and we will handle all the logistics for you. This will allow you the peace of mind that the tumor tissue that you have chosen to preserve will be there and available now and in the future.
Will any of my tumor be used for general research?
SpeciCare is first and foremost working for you and your loved ones. Our founder, Ken Dixon, M.D., is committed to enabling the patient to access all options available. This might include research, and will enable a patient to look for the most cutting-edge therapies now and in the future.
Is there a chance my tissue won’t be viable (live)?
There is a chance that your tumor tissue might not be viable. Upon receipt of your tissue, our partner pathology laboratory in Indianapolis will check your tissue for viability. We will mail you a report from our board-certified pathologists with the results of their findings.
What happens to my tissue if I die?
Your family members will determine how the remaining tissue will be handled. SpeciCare allows for a 90-day period to enable our patient advocates to work closely with them to carry out their wishes.
Doesn’t my hospital save my tumor?
Generally, hospitals keep a small portion of the tumor for their own purposes but not in a live state. Typically they either preserve it in paraffin or flash frozen, neither of which keeps it in a live state and has limits to its use.