A programme looking at the features of cancer (SPECTA)

Cancer type:

All cancer types





This programme is looking at the features of cancer to better understand it and to be able to work out what the best treatment for it might be. 

It is open to anyone who has a diagnosis of cancer and is at least 12 years old.

Please note we use the term ‘you’ in this summary. If you are a parent of a child with cancer we are referring to your child.  

More about this trial

 Research has shown that although two people might have the same type of cancer such as bowel cancer the same treatment might not work as equally well for them. This is because their cancers have different changes or features such as different changes in the genes. Open a glossary item 

The researchers in this programme want to improve their knowledge about the different features of cancer. They want to use this information to find out if it might:

  • explain how cancer develops or continues to grow (progresses)
  • show how well current or new treatment work 

In this programme they will collect:

  • personal information such as information about your lifestyle and health
  • samples of cancer tissue and blood. They may also collect other samples such as spit (saliva), urine and poo (stool).  

The aim of this programme is to better understand the different features of cancer and how treatment can be based on these. The team hope that in the future this could help doctors tailor (personalise) the treatment for each person with cancer.

You may not gain any benefit from taking part in the programme. But you may have the chance to take part in a clinical trial if there is one that is suitable.

Who can enter

The following bullet points are a summary of the entry conditions for this programme. Talk to your doctor or the programme team if you are unsure about any of these. They will be able to advise you. 

Who can take part

You may be able to join this programme if all of the following apply. You:

  • have cancer 
  • have had samples taken such as tissue samples (biopsies) Open a glossary item to confirm your diagnosis that the programme team can access 
  • are at least 12 years old

Who can’t take part

You cannot join this programme if there is any medical condition, mental health problem or social situation that could affect you taking part.

Trial design

Taking part in this programme does not affect any treatment you might have for your cancer. By taking part you may have the chance to go into a clinical trial designed especially for your cancer type. 

Research samples
You give blood samples. The team take these at the same time when you have blood taken as part of your routine care.

The team might also ask for other samples such as spit (saliva), urine or poo (stool).

If you have tissue samples (biopsies) taken as part of your routine care the team will ask for a piece of this. 

They use these samples to look: 

  • at the genes Open a glossary item of the cancer cells and how they are different to normal cells
  • at how treatment affects the cancer cells and their genes
  • for substances called biomarkers Open a glossary item that might be able to tell how well treatment is working or which might be the best treatment for the cancer

The team may ask you to fill in some questionnaires to collect some information about:

  • the environment you live in
  • your lifestyle such as diet and health

The team or your doctor will tell you when and how often you do this if needed. 

The programme team will use all this information to better understand the different cancer types and how to treat them.

Hospital visits

There are no extra hospital visits if you agree to join the programme.

Side effects

There are no side effects if you join the programme.

When looking at your samples the team may find information about other health concerns that has nothing to do with their research. An example is they find that you may be at risk of other diseases. 

If they do the team will tell your doctor. Your doctor will talk to you about this.



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

Professor Julia Scarisbrick

Supported by

European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer 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.

Last reviewed:

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