Background: Progress in cancer biomarker discovery is dependent on access to high-quality biological materials and high-resolution clinical data from the same cases. To overcome current limitations, a systematic prospective longitudinal sampling of multidisciplinary clinical data, blood and tissue from cancer patients was therefore initiated in 2010 by Uppsala and Umeå Universities and involving their corresponding University Hospitals, which are referral centers for one third of the Swedish population.
Material and methods: Patients with cancer of selected types who are treated at one of the participating hospitals are eligible for inclusion. The healthcare-integrated sampling scheme encompasses clinical data, questionnaires, blood, fresh frozen and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue specimens, diagnostic slides and radiology bioimaging data.
Results: In this ongoing effort, 12,265 patients with brain tumors, breast cancers, colorectal cancers, gynecological cancers, hematological malignancies, lung cancers, neuroendocrine tumors or prostate cancers have been included until the end of 2016. From the 6914 patients included during the first five years, 98% were sampled for blood at diagnosis, 83% had paraffin-embedded and 58% had fresh frozen tissues collected. For Uppsala County, 55% of all cancer patients were included in the cohort.
Conclusions: Close collaboration between participating hospitals and universities enabled prospective, longitudinal biobanking of blood and tissues and collection of multidisciplinary clinical data from cancer patients in the U-CAN cohort. Here, we summarize the first five years of operations, present U-CAN as a highly valuable cohort that will contribute to enhanced cancer research and describe the procedures to access samples and data.