The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer (PLCO) Screening Trial Pathology Tissue Resource

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention


BACKGROUND: Pathology tissue specimens with associated epidemiologic and clinical data are valuable for cancer research. The Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial undertook a large-scale effort to create a public resource of pathology tissues from PLCO participants who developed a cancer during the trial.

METHODS: Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue blocks were obtained from pathology laboratories on a loan basis for central processing of tissue microarrays, with additional free-standing tissue cores collected for nucleic acid extraction.

RESULTS: Pathology tissue specimens were obtained for prostate cancer (n = 1,052), lung cancer (n = 434), colorectal cancer (n = 675) and adenoma (n = 658), ovarian cancer and borderline tumors (n = 212), breast cancer (n = 870), and bladder cancer (n = 204). The process of creating this resource was complex, involving multidisciplinary teams with expertise in pathology, epidemiology, information technology, project management, and specialized laboratories.

CONCLUSIONS: Creating the PLCO tissue resource required a multistep process, including obtaining medical records and contacting pathology departments where pathology materials were stored after obtaining necessary patient consent and authorization. The potential to link tissue biomarkers to prospectively collected epidemiologic information, screening and clinical data, and matched blood or buccal samples offers valuable opportunities to study etiologic heterogeneity, mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and biomarkers for early detection and prognosis.

IMPACT: The methods and protocols developed for this effort, and the detailed description of this resource provided here, will be useful for those seeking to use PLCO pathology tissue specimens for their research and may also inform future tissue collection efforts in other settings. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 25(12); 1635-42. ©2016 AACR.

Medical Subject Headings

Aged; Biological Specimen Banks; Colorectal Neoplasms; Early Detection of Cancer; Female; Humans; Lung Neoplasms; Male; Neoplasms; Ovarian Neoplasms; Prostatic Neoplasms; Urinary Bladder Neoplasms

PubMed ID






First Page


Last Page