Biospecimen Collection and Submission Procedures

This webpage provides links to specimen labeling, collection, processing, documentation, tracking, packaging, and shipment instructions and handouts for specimens that will be submitted to the SWOG Cancer Research Network Biospecimen Bank (Lab #200 or Lab #201) in Columbus, OH.  If indicated in the protocol, these instructions may also be utilized for specimen submissions to other laboratories. 
SWOG Biobank Team
Yvonne Moyer; Diana L. Thomas, MD, PhD; James Rae, PhD; Kae Tegtmeier; Erin Grundy
Looking to learn about access to banked biospecimens for translational medicine research proposals? Try here.
  • For specimen instructions: First, refer to the protocol.
    • Always follow protocol-specific instructions provided in the protocol document or through a linked resource. Those instructions supersede the general instructions outlined here.
    • For SWOG-led protocols: Specimen instructions are usually outlined in Protocol Section 15 or through a linked resource.
  • Many SWOG-led protocols will involve specimen submissions to both the SWOG Biospecimen Bank and/or another laboratory.
    • Unless otherwise specified in the protocol or via a linked resource, utilize the instructions and handouts provided via the links below

Important Notes:

  1. Participant consent and the participant ID must be obtained prior to collecting specimens.
  2. Excess diagnostic specimens will be retained by the SWOG Cancer Research Network Biospecimen Bank (Biobank) and used according to the participant's designation for "future use", as indicated on the participant's consent form.
  3. See also: SWOG Frequently Asked Questions for Specimen Processing and Submission (coming soon).

General Specimen Requirements and Instructions:

When the protocol does not provide specimen instructions (or refers to the SWOG website for instructions), follow the instructions below for the relevant specimen type(s). Each of the following webpages includes downloadable 1-page handouts for ease of site (and designated staff) use.

    The complete guidelines are also posted here for download.

Common Specimen Submission Errors:

Specimen submission errors may result in queries and extra effort for the site staff. Prior to submitting specimens, please ensure designated staff have carefully reviewed the protocol instructions (usually in Section 15 of SWOG-led protocols) and/or the general requirements and instructions accessible from the links above.

The most common specimen submission errors received by the SWOG Biospecimen Bank are:

  • Incomplete specimen labeling.
  • When the information on/in the specimen label, the Specimen Tracking System and/or the printed Specimen Tracking System (STS) Packing List does not precisely align, the mismatched information is considered a discrepancy. The order and format of participant initials must be L, FM. A difference in comma placement will result in a query.
    • Note: If your institution is NOT able to include a comma on the specimen label, then the SWOG Biospecimen Bank will accept specimen labels with participant initials in format FML without a comma, however, data entry into the STS must still be entered in format L, FM. 
  • Missing supporting documentation (such as STS Packing List or Pathology Report).


For collection, processing or submission questions not addressed in the protocol or below, contact the SWOG Data Operations Center via the appropriate disease-specific e-mail distribution lists found on the Contact us page or at (206) 652-2267.