Journal of Digital Imaging

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1045–1057 | Cite as

The Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA): Maintaining and Operating a Public Information Repository

  • Kenneth ClarkEmail author
  • Bruce Vendt
  • Kirk Smith
  • John Freymann
  • Justin Kirby
  • Paul Koppel
  • Stephen Moore
  • Stanley Phillips
  • David Maffitt
  • Michael Pringle
  • Lawrence Tarbox
  • Fred Prior


The National Institutes of Health have placed significant emphasis on sharing of research data to support secondary research. Investigators have been encouraged to publish their clinical and imaging data as part of fulfilling their grant obligations. Realizing it was not sufficient to merely ask investigators to publish their collection of imaging and clinical data, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) created the open source National Biomedical Image Archive software package as a mechanism for centralized hosting of cancer related imaging. NCI has contracted with Washington University in Saint Louis to create The Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA)—an open-source, open-access information resource to support research, development, and educational initiatives utilizing advanced medical imaging of cancer. In its first year of operation, TCIA accumulated 23 collections (3.3 million images). Operating and maintaining a high-availability image archive is a complex challenge involving varied archive-specific resources and driven by the needs of both image submitters and image consumers. Quality archives of any type (traditional library, PubMed, refereed journals) require management and customer service. This paper describes the management tasks and user support model for TCIA.


TCIA NBIA Cancer imaging Image archive Biomedical image analysis Cancer detection 



This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN261200800001E. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The Washington University component is funded by SUBCONTRACT 10XS220: SAIC-F (PI: Prior) Image Archive Hosting.

We thank John Perry, TCIA consultant, who provided expert CTP and de-identification guidance throughout. We also thank our image curators Joan Moulton, Mary Wolfsberger, and Tracy Nolan for their detailed image-quality-assurance efforts.


  1. 1.
    Birney E, et al: Mining the draft human genome. Nature 409(6822):827–828, 2001PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Benson DA, et al: GenBank. Nucleic Acids Res 25(1):1–6, 1997PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Howe D, et al: Big data: the future of biocuration. Nature 455(7209):47–50, 2008PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Van Essen D, et al: The Human Connectome Project: a data acquisition perspective. Neuroimage 62:2222–2231, 2012PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Marcus D, et al: Informatics and data mining tools and strategies for the human connectome project. Front Neuroinform 5:4, 2011PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Grethe JS, et al: Biomedical informatics research network: building a national collaboratory to hasten the derivation of new understanding and treatment of disease. Stud Health Technol Inform 112:100–110, 2005PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Keator DB, et al: A national human neuroimaging collaboratory enabled by the Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN). IEEE Trans Inf Technol Biomed 12(2):162–172, 2008PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hampton T: Cancer Genome Atlas. JAMA 296(16):1958–1958, 2006Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    RSNA. The RSNA Clinical Trial Processor. 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  10. 10.
    NCI. National Cancer Imaging Archive (NCIA). 2008 [cited 2013 04/19/2013]; Available from:
  11. 11.
    NCICB. National Biomedical Imaging Archive. 2011 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  12. 12.
    NCICB. NCI Center for Bioinformatics Downloads [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  13. 13.
    NAIMS. Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI). 2010 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  14. 14.
    NAIMS. Osteoarthritis Initiative Image Archive. 2011 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  15. 15.
    Moore SM, et al: Workstation acquisition node for multicenter imaging studies. Proc SPIE 4323, Medical Imaging 2001: PACS and Integrated Medical Information Systems: Design and Evaluation, 271 (August 7, 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.435489, 2001
  16. 16.
    Rhodes C, et al: Regulatory Compliance Requirements for an Open Source Electronic Image Trial Management System. In IEEE EMBS Conf 2010. 2010. IEEE XploreGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Vendt B, et al: Silent Cerebral Infarct Transfusion (SIT) trial imaging core: application of novel imaging information technology for rapid and central review of MRI of the brain. J Digit Imaging 22(3):326–343, 2009PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Clark K, et al: Collecting 48,000 CT exams for the Lung Screening Study of the National Lung Screening Trial. J Digit Imaging 22(6):667–680, 2009PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Tarbox L, et al: The Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA): creating a large public image collection. [Presentation] 2012 June 7, 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  20. 20.
    CBIIT. Common Security Module (CSM) [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  21. 21.
    NEMA. Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  22. 22.
    TCIA. Image Submitter Site User’s Guide. 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  23. 23.
    Moore S: TagSniffer. 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  24. 24.
    Prior FW, et al: The Cancer Imaging Archive. 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  25. 25.
    MIR. Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR) gForge. 2011 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  26. 26.
    Moore S, et al: De-identification Knowledge Base. 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  27. 27.
    CIP. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  28. 28.
    Clarke LP, et al: Quantitative imaging for evaluation of response to cancer therapy. Transl Oncol 2(4):195–197, 2009PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    CIP. The Quantitative Imaging Network (QIN). 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  30. 30.
    Vendt B, et al: The Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA). [Poster] 2013 March 26, 2013 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:
  31. 31.
    Clark K, et al: The Cancer Imaging Archive (TCIA): Maintaining and Operating a Public Information Repository. [Poster] 2012 June 7, 2012 [cited 2013 4/19/2013]; Available from:

Copyright information

© Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Clark
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bruce Vendt
    • 1
  • Kirk Smith
    • 1
  • John Freymann
    • 2
  • Justin Kirby
    • 2
  • Paul Koppel
    • 1
  • Stephen Moore
    • 1
  • Stanley Phillips
    • 1
  • David Maffitt
    • 1
  • Michael Pringle
    • 1
  • Lawrence Tarbox
    • 1
  • Fred Prior
    • 1
  1. 1.Mallinckrodt Institute of RadiologyWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Clinical Research Directorate/CMRPSAIC–Frederick, Inc., Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer ResearchFrederickUSA

Personalised recommendations