The SEER Residual Tissue Repository (RTR) program was established in 2003. The RTR maintains biospecimens obtained from three of SEER’s population-based cancer registries: Iowa, Hawaii, and Los Angeles. Investigators at government, academic, and nonprofit institutions may apply to the program to obtain specimens to study biomarkers, etiology, and other aspects with a population-based sample of cancer cases. This enables comparisons with all cases in the registry catchment to assess biases that may exist because not all specimens were available.
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About the Program
The SEER registries are population-based and collect data on all cancer cases in their geographic areas. The types of information that may be available include:
- demographic information
- tumor characteristics
- limited treatment data
- survival and cause of death
Thus, the SEER registries provide a unique opportunity for performing biospecimen studies on a representative sample of cancer cases from a particular geographic area. Recognizing this potential, the SEER Residual Tissue Repository (RTR) program was established in 2003.
The RTR program aims to retain specimens associated with SEER patients that would otherwise be discarded. Investigators can use these specimens for research on prognostic biomarkers, etiology, and other hypotheses relevant to the population-based sample.
Most RTR biospecimens are formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue blocks; however, some other biospecimens are maintained within the RTR, including a pancreatic tissue microarray. The RTR:
- Enables studies on rare cancers by drawing from multiple registries to increase statistical power.
- Allows validation studies on specimens from population-based registries.
- Allows evaluation of bias within tumor collections since the SEER database provides information on all cancer cases in the registry catchment.
- Makes available the wealth of SEER data on each cancer.
- Allows analysis of trends in incidence, survival and treatment over the history and diversity of the SEER registries.
- Permits updating of survival data after a tissue microarray (TMA) is formed without violating privacy protections.
The following three registries have on-site residual tissue repositories, as well as virtual repositories (specimens housed at pathology facilities across the registry catchment area):
The residual tissue repositories at the three registries cover over 60,000 cancer cases from diverse geographic regions (urban/rural) and racial/ethnic groups.
RTR activities include the Hawaii registry's production of tissue microarrays for colorectal and breast cancer, collaboration of all participating registries with the NCI Tissue Array Research Program (TARP) Lab to produce a pancreatic cancer tissue microarray, and consideration of other cancer sites for future tissue microarray generation. In addition, a variety of studies have used RTR specimens for non-TMA projects.
SEER RTR Committee
The SEER RTR Committee is composed of investigators from participating SEER registries and the NCI SEER Program/Surveillance Research Program. The committee works closely with numerous collaborators to design and implement population-based biospecimen research projects. The committee will
- ensure the overall process involving the RTR studies coincide with program goals,
- review proposals, progress reports, and manuscripts, and
- make decisions regarding the use of specimens and other desired resources.
Tumors by Cancer Site
The availability of these biospecimens may vary. In addition, in some instances, this collection can be supplemented with biospecimens held by pathology laboratories within the registry catchment areas.
Estimated Number of Tumors for 20 Leading Cancer Sites, SEER Residual Tissue Repository, by Decade of Diagnosis*†
|All sites combined||15,034||107,861||18,346||141,241|
|Brain and other nervous system||257||1,396||182||1,835|
|Colon and Rectum||1,896||13,560||2,587||18,043|
|Corpus and Uterus, NOS||399||3,433||764||4,596|
|Kidney and Renal Pelvis||314||2,145||437||2,896|
|Liver and Intrahepatic Bile Duct||140||1,261||246||1,647|
|Lung and Bronchus||2,059||14,059||1,942||18,060|
|Melanoma of the Skin||293||2,371||546||3,210|
|Oral Cavity and Pharynx||428||2,619||469||3,516|
* Updated October 27, 2010. The Los Angeles estimate is of fully catalogued biospecimens only, approximately one third of tumors in the registry's collection.
† Leading Cancer Sites, based on Incidence and Mortality Data
** All sites counts are invasive tumors with the exception of Urinary Bladder which includes In Situ