Superficial scrapings from breast tumors is a source for biobanking and research purposes

Lab Invest. 2014 Jul;94(7):796-805. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2014.65. Epub 2014 Apr 28.


Breast cancer is a unique tumor disease in terms of the stringent requirement of predictive biomarker assessments. As recommended by current international guidelines, the established markers consist of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor, human epidermal growth factor and Ki67, and are primarily analyzed by immunohistochemistry. However, new diagnostic methods based on microarray or next-generation sequencing on DNA and mRNA level are gaining ground. These analyses require fresh-frozen tumor tissue that is generally not available from tumors <10 mm in diameter, comprising almost 25% of all resected breast cancer at our department. We here present a simple and standardized method to generate material from small tumors without risking the histopathological examination. Furthermore, we show that the quality of this material is sufficient for subsequent analysis on mRNA, DNA, and epigenetic level. We were also able to use this method for isolation and expansion of cancer stem cells from the majority of tumors. Consequently, researches can be provided with clinically relevant material for translational studies. In conclusion, this method opens up a new possibility for usage of valuable fresh tumor material for research purposes, biobanking, and next-generation sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Specimen Banks / standards*
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Pathology, Molecular / methods
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • RNA, Neoplasm / isolation & purification
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Specimen Handling / methods*


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • RNA, Neoplasm