Skin Cancer Biological Samples:
Utilization in Research and Sourcing

The development of drugs and diagnostic tests for the treatment and detection of skin cancer requires conducting studies on biological samples obtained from patients with skin cancer. A brief overview of various cancers and how the services offered by Labtoo contribute to accelerating research and development projects in the pharmaceutical industry.

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What are skin tumors ?

The most common skin cancers are distinguished into three types based on the type of cells in which they originate:

  • Basal cell carcinoma (70%) 

    This is the most common skin cancer, developing from keratinocytes, the deepest cells of the epidermis. Although it can appear anywhere on the body, it is more common on the head and neck. This type of carcinoma poses a low risk of metastasis.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (20%) 

    Also known as spinocellular carcinoma, less common, it forms from epithelial cells in the intermediate layer of the epidermis. It can appear on any part of the body, but its preferential areas are those exposed to the sun. The risk of metastasis is higher with this type of carcinoma.

  • Melanoma (10%)

    Although less common, melanoma is the most serious of skin cancers. It develops from melanocytes, responsible for skin color. This type of cancer carries an increased risk of metastasis.

Skin cancers can be metastatic. Since the dermis is highly vascularized, tumors may spread through lymphatic or blood vessels to infect other organs.

Labeled anatomical diagram of a skin
Type of Skin Cancer
Origin Cell
Frequency (Relative)
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal Cells
70%
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cells
20%
Melanoma
Melanocytes
10%
Kaposi's Sarcoma
Endothelial Cells
>1%
Cutaneous Lymphoma
Lymphatic Cells
1-5%
Merkel Cell Cancer
Merkel Cells
>1%
Dermatofibrosarcoma
Soft Tissues of the Skin
>1%
Annexal Carcinoma
Annexal Glands (Sweat and Sebaceous)
>1%

Explore Labtoo's Service for Your Biological Sample Research

Labtoo assists you in sourcing biological samples from skin cancer patients. Our team manages the entire project of transferring biological materials from inception to sample delivery.

  • Feasibility assessment of sample availability or clinical collection from referenced clinical centers
  • Validation of regulatory aspects
  • Establishment of a contractual framework
  • Dispatch of desired samples under appropriate conditions
  • Transfer of associated clinical data
  • Additional analytical and experimental services

Types of Available Samples

  • Tissues
    • Fresh Tissues: after a tumor resection or a biopsy, a pathologist can decide whether the tissue sample can be used for research. Labtoo can organize the conditioning and shipment of fresh skin cancer tissue in 24-48 hours after surgery.

    • Frozen Tissues (OCT and FF): similarly to fresh tissue, once the tissues are cleared for research, the clinical site can freeze and keep the frozen skin tissue samples at -80°C or in liquid nitrogen for ulterior use.

    • FFPE Tissues: Pathologists typically embed the biopsies and resections in paraffin. FFPE blocks of skin cancer tissues can be used later for research.

    • Adjacent Healthy Tissues: tumor resections typically include healthy adjacent skin tissue during the process. This tissue can later be used for research and act as controls for diseased tissues.

  • Blood Derivatives
    • Plasma or Serum from skin cancer patients
    • PBMC (Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells)
    • Whole Blood
    • Leukapheresis
  • Biofluids
    • Urine
    • Feces
    • Others

Typical Associated Clinical Data

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Ethnicity
    • TNM Classification
    • Undergone Treatment
    • Medical Imaging
    • Positivity/Negativity for certain Infections
    • Other Data (upon request)

Our service identifies clinical sites capable of preparing and transferring a sample collection for a specific project.

Contact our team to discuss your project.

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The Stages and Grades of Skin Cancer

The stage and grade of cancer are commonly used together to provide a comprehensive assessment of the disease and guide optimal treatment.

The determination of the cancer stage relies primarily on the TNM classification, which evaluates the tumor size (T), the involvement of lymph nodes by cancer cells (N), and the presence of metastases in other parts of the body (M). In parallel, the grade provides an indication of the degree of differentiation of cancer cells.

Noted from 1 to 3, grade G1 indicates well-differentiated cells resembling normal cells, grade G2 represents moderately differentiated cells, and grade G3 indicates poorly differentiated cells, suggesting faster and potentially more aggressive growth.

For skin cancers, the stages differ depending on whether the tumor is a carcinoma or a melanoma:

Carcinoma : 

  • Stage 0 : Cancer cells are limited to the epidermis.

  • Stage I : Tumor size up to 2 cm.

  • Stage II : Tumor size between 2 and 4 cm.

  • Stage III : (at least one statement)

    • Tumor larger than 4 cm

    • Mild spread to a neighboring bone.

    • Invasion of nerves or deeper development than the epidermis.

    • Spread to a lymph node with a maximum size of 3 cm.

  • Stage IV A : (at least one statement)

    • Extension to a lymph node larger than 3 cm.

    • Spread to multiple lymph nodes measuring less than 6 cm.

    • Extension to a lymph node larger than 6 cm.

  • Stage IV B : Spread to other parts of the body (metastases).

Melanoma :

  • Stage 0 : Cancer cells limited to the epidermis.

  • Stage I A : Tumor thickness of 0.8 mm or less, without ulceration, OR thickness between 0.8 mm and 1 mm with possible ulceration.

  • Stage I B : Tumor thickness between 1 mm and 2 mm, without ulceration.

  • Stage II A : (at least one statement)

    • Tumor thickness between 1 mm and 2 mm with ulceration.

    • Tumor thickness between 2 mm and 4 mm, without ulceration.

  • Stage II B : (at least one statement)

    • Tumor thickness between 2 mm and 4 mm with ulceration.

    • Tumor thickness over 4 mm without ulceration.

  • Stage II C : Tumor thickness over 4 mm with ulceration.

  • Stage III : Spread to at least 1 lymph node.

  • Stage IV : Spread to other parts of the body (metastases).

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Rare Forms of Skin Cancers

Occasionally, rare forms of liver cancer develop, among which are :

  • Merkel Cell Carcinomas 

    Formed from neuroendocrine cells in the upper layer of the skin.

  • Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (Darier-Ferrand Disease )

    Emerges in the deep layers of the skin, involving fibroblasts, the cells responsible for the production of skin collagen.

  • Adnexal Carcinomas

    Group of skin cancers forming from adnexal structures such as sebaceous glands, sweat glands, hair follicles, and nails. This includes sebaceous, apocrine, and eccrine carcinomas.

  • Cutaneous Lymphoma

    A type of cancer affecting lymphatic cells present in the skin.

  • Kaposi's Sarcoma 

    Cancer developing in the endothelial cells lining blood and lymphatic vessels. Often associated with Human Herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8).

Skin Cancer Treatments and Advances

The treatment of skin cancers varies depending on the stage of the disease, the patient's age, and the type of tumor.

Surgery remains the primary treatment in all cases. Depending on the tumor's postoperative response or if surgery is not feasible, various complementary methods may be considered.

These approaches include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy, as well as targeted therapies specifically aiming at precise proteins present in the tumor.

The treatment choice is personalized based on a comprehensive assessment of the patient's clinical situation by the medical team.

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