The clinical, research, and social value of autopsy after any cancer death: a perspective from the Children's Oncology Group Soft Tissue Sarcoma Committee.

Department of Oncology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee 38105-3678, USA.
Cancer (Impact Factor: 4.89). 10/2011; 118(12):3002-9. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.26620
Source: PubMed


Collection of tumor tissue at autopsy can provide valuable tumor specimens to advance research for many types of cancer. Autopsy also has many other medical, scientific, and social benefits and should be encouraged in patients who are dying of cancer.

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    ABSTRACT: More than 13,000 children annually in the United States and Canada under the age of 20 will be diagnosed with cancer at a mortality approaching 20% 1,2. Tumor samples obtained by autopsy provide an innovative way to study tumor progression, potentially aiding in the discovery of new treatments and increased survival rates. The purpose of this study was to identify barriers to autopsies and develop guidelines for requesting autopsies for research purposes. Families of children treated for childhood cancer were referred by patient advocacy groups and surveyed about attitudes and experiences with research autopsies. From 60 interviews, barriers to autopsy and tumor banking were identified. An additional 14 interviews were conducted with medical and scientific experts. Ninety-three percent of parents of deceased children did or would have consented to a research autopsy if presented with the option; however, only half of these families were given the opportunity to donate autopsy tissue for research. The most significant barriers were the physicians' reluctance to ask a grieving family and lack of awareness about research opportunities. The value of donating tumor samples to research via an autopsy should be promoted to all groups managing pediatric cancer patients. Not only does autopsy tumor banking offer a potentially important medical and scientific impact, but the opportunity to contribute this Legacy Gift of autopsy tumor tissue also creates a positive outlet for the grieving family. Taking these findings into account, our multidisciplinary team has developed a curriculum addressing key barriers. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2013;60:204–209.
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To determine bereaved parents' perceptions about participating in autopsy-related research and to elucidate their suggestions about how to improve the process. Study design: A prospective multicenter study was conducted to collect tumor tissue by autopsy of children with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. In the study, parents completed a questionnaire after their child's death to describe the purpose for, hopes (ie, desired outcomes of), and regrets about their participation in autopsy-related research. Parents also suggested ways to improve autopsy-related discussions. A semantic content analytic method was used to analyze responses and identify themes within and across parent responses. Results: Responses from 33 parents indicated that the main reasons for participating in this study were to advance medical knowledge or find a cure, a desire to help others, and choosing as their child would want. Parents hoped that participation would help others or help find a cure as well as provide closure. Providing education/anticipatory guidance and having a trusted professional sensitively broach the topic of autopsy were suggestions to improve autopsy discussions. All parents felt that study participation was the right decision, and none regretted it; 91% agreed that they would make the choice again. Conclusion: Because autopsy can help advance scientific understanding of the disease itself and because parents reported having no regret and even cited benefits, researchers should be encouraged to continue autopsy-related research. Parental perceptions about such studies should be evaluated in other types of pediatric diseases.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2013 · The Journal of pediatrics
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    ABSTRACT: Rare diseases typically affect fewer than 200 000 patients annually, yet because thousands of rare diseases exist, the cumulative impact is millions of patients worldwide. Every form of childhood cancer qualifies as a rare disease-including the childhood muscle cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS). The next few years promise to be an exceptionally good era of opportunity for public-private collaboration for rare and childhood cancers. Not only do certain governmental regulation advantages exist, but these advantages are being made permanent with special incentives for pediatric orphan drug-product development. Coupled with a growing understanding of sarcoma tumor biology, synergy with pharmaceutical muscle disease drug-development programs, and emerging publically available preclinical and clinical tools, the outlook for academic-community-industry partnerships in RMS drug development looks promising.Oncogene advance online publication, 13 May 2013; doi:10.1038/onc.2013.129.
    No preview · Article · May 2013 · Oncogene
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