Cancer kills 14 people every day in Singapore. Despite great strides in medicine there has been a slowdown in the development of new cancer drugs.

To tackle this challenge, scientists need to understand how the disease develops and behaves by studying the cancerous tissue. This is where you can play a role by donating your tumour tissues to research.

How You Can Help In Cancer Research

Research on donated tissue helps to bring new treatments and diagnostic tests to patients' bedside. It is especially important that scientists here are able to study tumours from the local population. But the potential for cancer research to bring new treatments to patients depends on patients' willingness to donate leftover tumour tissues to research.

When cancer patients undergo surgery to remove a tumour, the surgeons will send the tumour to a pathologist to determine the type and stage of cancer. After the diagnosis, any leftovers are usually thrown away.

But these leftovers are a very valuable resource for scientists who are researching better treatments for the disease. So by choosing to donate your leftover tumour tissues to research, you can help to advance medical knowledge that leads to new treatments and cures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Associate Professor Tan Soo Yong, Senior Consultant, Department of Pathology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group, answers common questions about tissue donation.

Why should I donate my tumour tissue?

By donating your leftover tumour tissues, you are making a purely altruistic gesture to improve medical knowledge and benefit future patients who may suffer from the same or similar disease. Potential new cancer treatments, diagnostic tools and even cures may lie in the tumour tissues you donate.

How do I donate my tumour tissue?

At the time of the surgery, doctors will ask you for your consent for the operation and to donate your leftover tissue to research. If you agree, all you need to do is to sign the Declaration of Donation. Once you have signed the form, your surgeon and the SingHealth Tissue Repository staff will take care of the rest.

However, you will be asked to donate two teaspoons (10ml) of blood as many research studies require a blood sample as control (to compare genetic characteristics with the tumour). You can choose to opt out of the blood sample donation.

If I donate, will the surgeon cut out more tissue for research? Tissues for research is undertaken only after the surgery is completed, so no more tissue will be removed than if you had decided not to donate. The SingHealth Tissue Repository will only take tissue from the tumour tissue that is removed as part of your treatment.

Will my care be affected whether or not I choose to donate my tumour tissue?

Your medical management will not be affected in any way whether or not you choose to donate your leftover tumour tissues. Patient safety is of paramount importance and donating your leftover tumour tissues will not compromise your diagnosis or treatment. That is why tumour tissues are not available to researchers until the diagnostic process has been completed.

Who can donate their tumour tissue?

Patients who undergo cancer surgery at SingHealth hospitals and centres can donate their leftover tumour tissues to research.

How do I indicate my interest in donating my tumour tissue?

If you’re interested, you can ask your doctor or nurse to contact the SingHealth Tissue Repository, or send your enquiry to

Patient Information Sheets and Consent Forms:

  • Patient Info Sheet (Scheduled)*
  • Patient Info Sheet (Unscheduled)**
  • Patient Consent Form (Scheduled)
  • Patient Consent Form (Unscheduled)
  • Children Consent Form***

* Scheduled collection refers to donated tissues that will be used for ongoing research studies. These donated tissues will be stored with STR for the duration of the study.

** Unscheduled collection refers to donated tissues that will go into the Tissue Bank, regardless of whether there is an ongoing study.

***Parents or guardians must give consent for tissue donations for children under 21 years of age.

Ref: S13