A study looking at ways to diagnose lung cancer earlier (Study 1a)

Cancer type:

Lung cancer





This study is looking at ways of working out who may be at higher risk of getting lung cancer. The study is supported by Cancer Research UK.

We know that smoking plays a big part in causing lung diseases. But it is not fully understood why some people who smoke get lung cancer and others do not.

Differences in our genes may affect how cells in the airways react to substances in cigarette smoke. In this study, researchers will look at cells from the airways of people who are due to have a test called a bronchoscopy to get a better understanding of these differences. This may help to predict who could be at greater risk of lung cancer.

The study team also want to see if blood cells, and cells lining the nose and mouth, react to cigarette smoke in the same way as cells in the airways. If they do, it may be possible to develop new ways of testing to see who is at higher risk of lung cancer.

You will not get any direct benefit from taking part in this study. But the researchers hope the results can be used to help people in the future.

Who can enter

You may be able to join this study if you

  • Are going to have a test called a bronchoscopy during which your doctor will look at the inside of your airways and take a sample of tissue (a biopsy)
  • Are a smoker, an ex-smoker, or have never smoked
  • Are at least 18 years old

You cannot join the study if you

  • Have had lung cancer in the past
  • Have had a cancer of your upper airways such as laryngeal Open a glossary item, mouth and oropharyngeal Open a glossary item or nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Have (or your doctors think you may have) a tumour in the airways in both lungs
  • Are known to be at high risk of bleeding for any reason

Trial design

This study will recruit people who are having a bronchoscopy because they have (or may have) non small cell lung cancer. The study team want to recruit 100 people who are diagnosed with lung cancer. They also want to recruit 100 people who have a bronchoscopy because their doctor suspects they may have lung cancer, but tests show they do not.

If you agree to take part in the study, some extra samples will be taken from your lung during the bronchoscopy. The researchers will take an extra blood sample. They will also take 4 samples from just inside your nose, and a sample from each side of your mouth. They use a small plastic instrument called a curette to gently remove some of the cells from the lining of each side of your nose. They use a small brush to gently take some cells from inside your cheeks.

As well as collecting the samples, the study team will ask you some questions about your past medical history, your smoking history and whether you or any close relatives have ever had cancer or lung disease.

Hospital visits

All the samples and information the researchers need for this study are taken on the day you have your bronchoscopy, so there are no extra hospital visits.

Taking the extra samples of lung tissue will add 2 to 3 minutes to the length of time your bronchoscopy takes. Taking the samples of cells from inside your nose takes 2 to 3 minutes. Taking the samples from your mouth only takes about a minute. Answering the questions shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes.

Side effects

It is unlikely that the extra few minutes added to the time it takes to do your bronchoscopy will cause you any problems. But if the doctor doing the test thinks that taking extra samples would cause you any harm, they will not collect them.

Taking the samples from your nose can be slightly uncomfortable.

Before you have your bronchoscopy, you have a small plastic tube put into a vein to give you a drug to make you sleepy (a sedative Open a glossary item). The study team will try to take the blood sample from this tube. But if they need to take the blood sample separately, you may have some pain or discomfort and a small bruise.



Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Robert Rintoul

Supported by

Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Charlie took part in a trial to try new treatments

A picture of Charlie

“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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