Victorian Cancer Cytogenetics Service


The Victorian Cancer Cytogenetics service is a fully NATA/RCPA accredited laboratory providing a state-wide service for cancer cytogenetic analysis.

Cytogenetics is an integral part of the management of haematological and other malignancies by providing important diagnostic and prognostic information. As a marker of disease status cytogenetics can be used to assess remission or relapse, including the monitoring of patients post bone marrow transplantation.

We aim to provide a comprehensive cancer cytogenetics service to the State of Victoria with a commitment to quality and efficiency of service.  We are also committed to providing education and to continuing research in the areas of cancer cytogenetics and molecular genetics.


Cytogenetic tests performed by VCCS

Specimen Delivery to VCCS

All specimens are to be addressed and delivered to:

Pathology Specimen Reception,
Attn: Victorian Cancer Cytogenetics Service
2nd Floor, Inpatient Services Building
St. Vincent’s Hospital
Princes Street, Fitzroy, 3065
Tel: 03 9231 4154

  • All specimens must be accompanied by a signed request form with cytogenetics clearly requested.
  • Specimens sent Monday to Friday should reach the department no later than 5.00pm
  • If taken later in the day, keep specimen at room temperature (RT) and send to department the next morning.
  • Ensure specimen is not exposed to extremes of temperature during transit.

NOTE: Do NOT place on ice!

  • Specimens taken late Friday may be sent overnight, to arrive on Saturday.
  • If taken at the weekend or on a Public Holiday, keep the specimen at RT; send first thing the next working day.
  • New leukaemia samples must be handled on the same day as obtained.  Therefore, if taken after hours, contact St. Vincent’s Hospital for the pathologist/scientist on call.

Urgent Results

If an urgent result is required, please follow-up the despatch of the specimen with a telephone call to the department and the specimen will be processed more rapidly.
An urgent result may be provided within 24-48 hours. Completed analysis with banding should take no more than 5 days.

Specimen types accepted by VCCS

  • Bone marrow
  • Peripheral blood
  • Lymph node
  • Trephine
  • Paraffin Embedded Tissue (PET)

Minimum Specimen Labelling Requirements

  • Label sterile tube with patient’s name (surname and first name), sex, date of birth, UR number, date specimen taken.
  • Place in biohazard bag together with completed interhospital referral form (obtainable from VCCS).

Sample Collection

Bone Marrow

  • Bone marrow (0.5 – 1.0mL) is collected into a sterile tube containing lithium or sodium heparin without gel or beads.

Blood Specimens

  • Peripheral blood (5-10mL) is collected into a sterile tube containing lithium or sodium heparin without gel or beads.  These tubes are commercially available, but if unobtainable a sterile plain 10mL tube with 1000IU/mL of liquid sodium heparin added, will suffice.
  • EDTA tubes are NOT acceptable.


  • In the absence of adequate aspirated bone marrow specimen, a small piece of trephine may be sent in the same collection tube as for bone marrow or blood but with a covering of tissue culture medium for transport.
  • As trephine cultures are often unsuccessful, a preferred tissue for culture may be peripheral blood (PB) for acute leukaemias or lymphoproliferative disorders if there is a significant abnormal cell population in the peripheral blood.

Lymph Node

Specimens should be from a viable area of tumor and kept sterile at all times.

  • Fresh unfixed specimens should be placed into clearly labelled containers containing RPMI, PBS or viral transport medium and kept at room temperature and transported to the laboratory ASAP.
  • Note: Specimens taken from areas of necrosis or normal tissue or from a heavily irradiated area are not appropriate for cytogenetic analysis.

FISH on paraffin-embedded tissue

See attached referral form for sending FISH on paraffin-embedded tissue to VCCS.

How to Contact Us

The department is located on the 2nd floor of St.Vincent's Hospital, Building A, Destination A26.

Should any questions arise regarding a specimen, test, or a result, please contact the VCCS on tel: 03 9231 4154 for consultation. Alternatively we can be contacted by email at