Assessment method ■
Subscription rates ■ Banking details ■ Courier mail ■ Sponsorships
The General module comprises three annual runs with IHC tests for about 16 different antigens to be detected in formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissues. The antigenic markers are selected to cover a spectrum of commonly used as well as selected special or new markers.
The Breast cancer IHC module comprises two annual runs with IHC tests for HER-2 and Estrogen receptor or Progesterone receptor (alternating), and one other IHC marker, e.g., Ki67.
The HER-2 ISH module comprises two annual runs
with in situ hybridization (ISH) tests for HER-2 (without
immunohistochemistry). This module, active from 2012, comprise CISH/SISH test for HER-2 to be detected in formalin
fixed paraffin embedded tissues. Also FISH test is now included
(NordiQC assessment of lab scoring only). From September 2012 gastric
cancers will be included in the MTA.
Currently all pathology laboratories performing immunohistochemistry are invited to participate in the quality assessment of immunostains. The maximum number of participants is 350. If this number is reached, new applicants will be put on a waiting list.
Laboratories may apply for enrolment in the general module and/or the breast cancer module as detailed in Participation (New participant).
To enrol for the first time, the laboratory must fill out the electronic form on www.nordiqc.org -> Participation -> New participant. Sponsored participation must be indicated in the Comments' field: Module, company, and time range.
The enrolled laboratory will receive a welcome message like this:
Welcome to NordiQC
Participant data and assessment results are anonymous to all but the NordiQC staff. However, in case of optimal results, participant data may appear on recommended protocols, see below, unless they have requested to remain anonymous. By appointment with the laboratories, individual assessment results may be passed on to scientific boards. Individual results will not be given to sponsoring companies.
The laboratories enrolled are given a unique three digit identification number, which is used for all assessments. All participating laboratories are registered in a password protected database. On the website, the laboratories have direct access to their own data and are solely responsible for keeping names, e-mail addresses, accounting information etc. up-to-date.
By submitting protocols electronically for one or more markers in a run announced, the enrolled laboratory automatically is considered a participant in the scheme for the rest of the year.
Before 1 January each year, all participants get an e-mail alert inviting to continue participation in
the following year. Laboratories not submitting protocols for the first
run in the annual scheme (deadline usually about 7th January, see
modules) and not responding to a
reminder, will have their participation closed without further notice. It can be reopened by
request. Laboratories not submitting protocols for the second and third
run in the annual scheme (deadlines usually about 4th April and 12 September, resp.) and
not responding to reminders, will have their participation closed
without further notice. It
can be reopened by request.
1) Pathology laboratories enrolled in the scheme participate in an assessment run by staining slides circulated from NordiQC. The laboratories can only obtain unstained slides from NordiQC after electronic submission of relevant protocols before the deadline, filling out the relevant protocol form on www.nordiqc.org -> Participation. Protocols sent via e-mail or letter are NOT accepted. Only one protocol is accepted for each marker/epitope. If a laboratory submits a second protocol for the same test (e.g., because of corrections), it automatically overwrites the first. When protocol data are submitted, the system gives a receipt (see figure) indicating that the data has been successfully sent (1). Print the data (2) and keep as documentation for your submission.
2) Only the stains listed at a particular run can be submitted for assessment. If a laboratory does not stock an antibody needed for the detection of an epitope, it cannot be replaced by another antibody. This is due to the design of multitissue blocks and the need for a large number of comparable stains in order to make a proper assessment. For the same reason, stains are not assessed if inappropriate (irrelevant) antibodies have been used.
sections circulated are serial sections cut from multitissue
blocks containing several anonymized normal and tumour tissues fixed
in 10% neutral buffered formalin and embedded in paraffin.
4) Laboratories are requested to stain the slides using their standard protocol. One (and only one) slide for each epitope should be submitted to NordiQC for assessment together with the in-house control slide. The other NordiQC slide should be kept in the laboratory as a reference (or as a reserve in case of a staining failure). In case slides are broken at the receipt, NordiQC should be contacted by e-mail.
5) All stained slides returned to NordiQC are assessed and marked by the assessor group. Generally, the assessment is based on the staining intensity and distribution in cells expected to stain, background staining, signs of cross-reactivity, counter-staining and tissue preservation during the staining process. Detailed criteria are indicated on the assessment page for each marker. The control stains are not assessed. However, they are requested in order to interpret insufficient stains and - in the future - also to guide the selection of controls.
7) Examples of optimal and suboptimal staining results are uploaded on the website as of the date indicated on the Participation page. Among protocols giving an optimal staining, 2-4 are presented as recommended protocols. They are selected to reflect a spectrum of antibodies and methods and to represent different participating laboratories. The names and e-mail addresses of laboratories providing optimal protocols are given in the protocols to encourage direct communication between laboratories. If a participant providing a protocol wish to remain anonymous, this should be specified in the Comments field. Companies will, however, always be anonymous. Suboptimal stains are presented anonymously with indication of possible problems or errors in the protocols.
8) The NordiQC lab informs all participants about their individual scores via e-mail. In case of a borderline or poor staining result, suggestions for protocol optimization are given. In some cases comments are given also to good stains, e.g., in case of excessive counter-stain.
10) Laboratory proficiency tests in NordiQC are restricted to the runs. Due to limitations in staff and material it is not possible for laboratories to obtain individual tests outside the runs.
● Provided the use of an appropriate antibody, each stain is marked as optimal, good, borderline or poor.
Moderate or strong false positive staining due to, e.g., endogenous biotin is not compatible with an optimal staining.
Reassessment based on
a new stain: If a participant wishes to document improvement,
e.g., after correcting an error or changing the protocol, two new unstained sections may be obtained from NordiQC for a new staining
in the following (impending) run.
However, due to the overlap between the first and second annual run
in the general module, reassessments from the first run will be
carried out in the third run.
Subscription rates 2013
The rates are unchanged from 2010, 2011,
and 2012 (however, from 2012 the Breast cancer module has been split into a Breast
cancer IHC module and a HER-2 ISH module. For participants in the Breast
cancer IHC module this means two more tests. For participants also
attending the HER-2 ISH - BRISH or FISH - test, the fee becomes DKK 700
NordiQC is a non-profit organization, and the rates indicated in the table are meeting the expenses only, wherefore discount is not available. Laboratories with financial difficulties are encouraged to contact, e.g., a local diagnostics vendor or distributor for sponsorship (see Sponsored participation below). Apart from new participants, laboratories can only participate on an annual basis paying the fee indicated above (i.e., the fee is not reduced if a laboratory does not stock an antibody or omits to submit protocols or return slides).
After circulation of the unstained slides, an invoice
is sent electronically to the sponsor e-mail address associated with the
Individual assessment results will not be sent to the sponsor, unless a
specific agreement has been
3201, account number
34 02 55 20 26.
Participants outside Denmark may use the the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) / Bank Identifier Code (BIC):
IBAN number: DK 32 30 00 34 02 55 20 26
SWIFT-BIC code: DABADKKK
and research account 88.38 NordiQC 4202HK.
Cheques should be made payable to: NordiQC, Aalborg Hospital quoting the above invoice number and forward to:
Banking details as above
Mark the payment: research account 88.39 IHCU 4202HK.
Almost all participants obtain and return the
slides by ordinary mail.
The risk of loss is generally very little. In case a lab repeatedly do
not receive their unstained slides, or only get them very late,
submission of slides in worldwide parcels with
courier or logistics services companies like FedEx or DHL may be
Street address for courier mail (air waybill):
Fax: +45 9811 5990
Do not write P.O.Box on courier mail.
Sponsorships for NordiQC scientific projects from organisations, producers, vendors and distributors affiliated immunohistochemistry are welcome (as for sponsored participation for individual laboratories, see above). Sponsorships support the scientific work but have no influence on the NordiQC methods, results or conclusions.
The annual NordiQC sponsorship fee is DKK 12,000 ( 1610). Sponsors may have their logo or advertisement placed on the frontpage (max 120 x max 32 pixels) with link to their own website.
Sponsorship including annual participation for one laboratory (one or more modules) is DKK 18,000 (2415) annually, for two laboratories DKK 24,000 ( 3220).
Payment for sponsorships should be forwarded to the account in Danske Bank (see address above).
Mark the payment: research account 59.05 NordiQC 4202HK.