Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial to look for markers to help diagnose lung cancer (CLUB trial)
This trial was done to see if people with lung cancer have any unusual proteins ('markers') in their blood or urine that may be linked to their cancer.
The research team looked at blood samples from people with lung cancer and people without. They hoped to find differences between them, and use these differences to lead to a blood test that will help diagnose lung cancer in the future.
By the time lung cancer causes symptoms, it is often at an advanced stage and cannot be removed with surgery. The tests to diagnose lung cancer include X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans, looking at the airways with a narrow tube containing a camera (a bronchoscopy) or having a biopsy. These tests are also used to check for signs that cancer has started to grow again after treatment. They can be expensive, time consuming for the hospitals and the patients, uncomfortable and invasive.
The aim of this trial was to compare blood and urine samples from people with lung cancer and people without, to try and find a pattern of abnormal proteins specific to lung cancer.
Summary of results
This trial team found that there was a difference in blood proteins between people who had lung cancer and people who didn’t.
This trial recruited 300 people who had lung cancer, and 220 people who didn’t have lung cancer (the healthy controls). The trial team analysed blood samples from each person to look at the differences in proteins between the 2 groups.
They found that the levels of certain proteins were different in those who had lung cancer and those who didn’t. But they found that when people had surgery to remove their cancer, the protein levels changed to be the same as those who didn’t have cancer.
The research team also found that levels of some proteins were different between those who smoked and those who didn’t. And they were different between different stages of cancer.
The research team concluded that there were differences in the proteins in blood samples of people who have lung cancer and people who don’t. They hope that, with more research, this will be useful in diagnosing lung cancer in the future.
They decided to look at this in more people to try and find out more, and went on to do the CLUB trial extension.
The research team also plan to analyse the urine samples of those who took part, to see if there are any differences in the proteins. We will update this page once this information is available.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
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.
Professor N James
Mr S Rathinam
Birmingham Heartlands Hospital NHS Trust
Heartlands Thoracic Surgery Research Fund
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)
University of Birmingham