Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation Tissue Microarray Consortium (QBCF-TMAC) for Biomarker Evaluation

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in Canadian women. While associated mortality has been steadily decreasing over the past few decades, breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. Individual patient outcomes and treatment options vary greatly depending on the specific characteristics of the tumor. In line with ongoing efforts to stratify patients more specifically towards targeted therapies, there is an urgent need for the identification and validation of additional prognostic and predictive biomarkers that can accurately predict the natural progression and treatment response of each case. An important step in the translation of putative markers from the lab to the clinic is the ability to probe them in cancer tissues from women with breast cancer. With patient-derived breast cancer tissues in limited quantity, researchers are turning towards tissue microarrays (TMAs) that permit the evaluation of large cohorts using minimal amounts of tissue. 

The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation Tissue Microarray Consortium (QBCF-TMAC) regroups researchers and clinicians from three different institutions. The goal of this team is to create a TMA based resource of 2000 breast cancer patients who consented to participate in the biobank initiatives from the Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM), the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHUQ). Biobanking activities within these three institutions were possible through the generous support of the RRCancer and the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.

Access to the QBCF-TMAC TMA-based resource proceeds through a step-wise process that includes the approval of the Study Committee. A first Optimisation-TMA is provided in order to ensure staining quality. Should the staining be appropriate, a Discovery-TMA of 225 cases is released. This TMA is composed of 60 triple negative, 30 HER2+ER+, 30 HER2+ER- and 105 ER+PR+/- breast cancer cases. Following evaluation of the Discovery-TMA results, the Study Committee adjudicates access to the remaining 1775 cases. Extensive harmonized clinical data are stored in a central database (ATiM, Advanced Tissue Management, CTRNet). Fields include data relevant to initial diagnosis, treatment and outcome data.

The QBCF-TMAC will provide the breast cancer community with a unique resource of breast cancer tissues and by combining clinical and biomarkers data will ultimately lead to the definition of a nomogram to help patient stratification and influence management decisions. Should you be interested in accessing the QBCF-TMAC resource, please download and complete the proposal form and send it back via email to along with any additional required documents.