A study to find out if people are still being exposed to the insulating material asbestos (TIPS)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:






This study is looking for fibres of asbestos Open a glossary item in lung tissue samples. It is recruiting people who have had surgery to treat a non related condition where air leaks from your lung, making your other lung collapse (‘pneumothorax’- pronounced ‘new-mo-thor-ax’). If you are suitable to take part, you will hear from the hospital where you had your surgery. Taking part does not mean that the research team think you have asbestos fibres in your lungs, or a cancer related to asbestos called mesothelioma.

Exposure to asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos is made of tiny fibres. If you come into contact with it, they can be breathed in. The fibres irritate the cells in the lungs or the lining of the lungs and can cause damage. This can lead to a cancer developing. Mesothelioma is quite a rare cancer, but it is becoming more common. Generally, it is diagnosed in people who’ve had quite a lot of exposure to asbestos.

Asbestos use is now banned in the UK, but many buildings still contain it. Some asbestos is still in the air in certain workplaces, and everyone is exposed to small amounts in the outside air.

Researchers want to look for asbestos in the lungs of a range of people, to see whether some people in Britain are still being exposed. A lot of money is still spent on monitoring asbestos. By looking at lung tissue samples for asbestos and other very small airborne particles, researchers hope to find out how much pollution the average person in Britain is breathing in. Looking at these findings, along with those of the MALCS study, this study hopes to show whether the asbestos risk in the UK has decreased or whether safety regulations need to be increased.

Who can enter

If you are suitable for this study, a member of the research team will arrange for you to be contacted. People taking part in this study will

  • Have had a condition where air leaks from your lung, making your other lung collapse (‘pneumothorax’- pronounced ‘new-mo-thor-ax’)
  • Have had surgery to correct this condition in the last 5 to 10 years, or will be waiting for this surgery
  • Have a sample of lung tissue from this operation stored by the hospital
  • Be contactable by telephone
  • Be well enough to take part
  • Be at least 16 years old

You cannot enter this study if you are unable to hear properly.

Trial design

For this study, the researchers have chosen people with pneumothorax simply because they can use samples of lung tissue removed routinely during surgery from a wide range of people. Taking part does not mean that the research team think you have a lot of asbestos fibres in your lungs, or that you are at risk of mesothelioma.

This study will now recruit around 3,500 people. If you are suitable for this study, staff from the lung unit where you had your operation will write to ask if you would like to take part. They will include some information about the study and a brief questionnaire for you to return by post. This questionnaire will ask about the jobs you have had, and the places you have lived. If you wish to take part, you complete this questionnaire and return it to the study team in the pre paid envelope.

A specially trained researcher will then contact you by phone and interview you. As well as asking in more detail about your job history and where you have lived, they will ask you other questions, including about

  • Any home building or maintenance you may have done yourself over the years
  • Whether you smoke, or used to smoke

If you have ever worked in the construction industry, or a trade related to this, the interviewer will ask you extra questions about what you actually did. And about the sort of places you worked in, and whether you may have been exposed to asbestos.

This interview will take about half an hour. The interviewer can ring at the best time for you, including evenings and weekends. If you need to take a break during the interview, you can finish it another time.

The team will also ask your permission to take a sample of the damaged lung tissue removed during your pneumothorax surgery. Small samples like this are usually kept by the hospital after surgery as routine. If you agree, they will use a piece of your sample to look for asbestos and other small airborne particles.

If you take part, you need to understand that the study team will not be able to pass on the results of your lung tissue tests to you or your doctor. This is because, although average results based on a large number of people are reliable, a result from a single small lung sample is not. It will not help doctors work out your future health, and may even be misleading.

Hospital visits

As you complete the questionnaire by post and have the interview over the phone, you do not need to visit hospital to take part in this study.

Side effects

As there are no treatments in this study, there are no side effects.

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 Julian Peto

Supported by

Health and Safety Executive
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 6700

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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