18. Motivations, Concerns and Experiences of Women Who Donate Normal Breast Tissue

Doherty, E., et al., 2014.

Since its launch in 2007, the Komen Tissue Bank has staged numerous donation events that have resulted in more than 4,900 women donating samples to be used in breast cancer research.

In 2014, researchers wanted to better understand what motivates volunteers to donate breast tissue, blood samples and demographic and health data to this unique biobank.


Donors at three different collection events were asked if they wanted to participate in an exit interview after their procedure. The researchers surveyed 221 donors using one-on-one completion of questionnaires.

Questions covered attitudes about breast cancer, feedback about the collection procedure and donation experience, and demographic info. Researchers analyzed the data, looking at patterns by age, health history, family history and other motivators.


Researchers found that some motivations were the same regardless of age. Having a connection with someone with breast cancer was the top reason for participating, regardless of demographics. Other reasons (in order of frequency) included a desire to help “the cause”; being persuaded to donate by others; helping future generations; gratitude or perceived luck at not having had cancer; being a cancer survivor.

Concerns included fear of the process, mostly reported by donors under 25, and a small number reported irritation from the process itself, namely the sound of the biopsy machine. The majority of the respondents answered “none” when asked about concerns.

Why this study is important:

Some of the findings from this study, such as the overall “whiteness” of the donors, have been addressed in the ensuring years, specifically the recruiting of potential donors of color and of different ethnicities. The commitment to diversity of donors and the recruitment processes is ongoing at KTB.

This study also illustrates the willingness of donors to participate, regardless of age, and it points to ways KTB may continue to target and encourage potential donors.