The field of molecular biology is an important part of research into neoplastic conditions. Much of this research requires access to human tissue samples, which may need to be collected and stored in a specific way, according to the type of study for which they are intended. Anonymous clinical information about the samples enables researchers to apply results to different patient groups. Access to stored tissues is particularly important in head and neck disease research as many neoplastic conditions affecting this area have a relatively low incidence. Consequently, it may take a long time to build up enough individual cases to make a study worthwhile.
We describe here the current legal, ethical and practical issues of research tissue banking, with regard to head and neck disease.