A study looking at screening for cancer (The SUMMIT study)

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

Cancer type:

Lung cancer





This study is looking at low dose CT scans to spot lung cancer earlier. And also to develop a new blood test to detect cancer.

It is for people who have a high risk of developing lung cancer. It includes people who:

  • smoke or used to smoke 
  • are between 55 and 77 years old

Please note - only people who receive an invitation letter from their GP can join this study.

More about this trial

Treatment for lung cancer may be more successful if it is diagnosed at an earlier stage. So researchers are looking for ways to diagnose lung cancer in people who don’t yet have symptoms. To do this they are looking at low dose CT scans and a blood test. 

A few places in the UK already offer lung health checks to people who smoke or used to smoke. The check involves having a low dose CT scan as a possible screening test for lung cancer.

This study is looking at these scans in a much larger group of people. It is also looking at developing a new blood test that doctors can use on its own or with scans to improve diagnosis.  

Researchers hope this blood test may also be able to find lung cancer and other types of cancer in people in the future.         

The main aims of the study are to see:

  • how well the scans work to find lung cancer in people who have a high risk of developing it
  • who agrees to have the scans and what they think about having them 
  • how well the new blood test works to find lung cancer and other cancers 

Who can enter

The following bullet points list the entry conditions for this study. Talk to your doctor or the study 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 study if all of the following apply. You:

  • smoke or have smoked (you gave up in the last 15 years)
  • have a higher risk of developing lung cancer
  • are over 55 but younger than 77 years old
  • are registered with a GP who is in the North Central and North East London area and has agreed to take part

Who can’t take part

You cannot take part if you are having treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Or you have cancer that your doctor is monitoring but you aren’t having treatment. You might be able to take part if you are having hormone therapy Open a glossary item for cancer such as breast cancer or prostate cancer.

Trial design

The trial team hope to find over 12,000 people to take part. It is for people who live in North Central and North East London or the surrounding areas. 

You can only take part if your GP invites you to join. When you receive the invitation there is a number to call. The team run through some questions with you about your health on the phone. 

If you agree to join the study, the team ask you to attend a lung health check once a year for three years. They arrange the appointments at a time and date that suit you.

It is important that you attend all the appointments. If you think that you might not be able to do this you should let the team know straight away.

The appointments take place at a lung health centre near you. The team let you know where to go. Each visit takes about one hour.

At each visit you:

  • give a blood sample
  • have a low dose CT scan of your lungs (some people don’t have this at their second visit)
  • complete an electronic questionnaire about your health using a small handheld device or administered via telephone.

Low dose CT scan 
A low dose CT scan is a type of x-ray which takes detailed pictures of the lungs. These pictures are processed by a computer. Specialist doctors (radiologists) check for the early signs of lung cancer and other abnormalities.

To have the CT scan, you lie on a couch which moves slowly through the scanner. It takes about 10 minutes to have it though the scan itself will take a few seconds.

The researchers think that about 1 in 10 people might have an abnormality on their scan. You might hear these abnormalities called nodules. These can be caused by other conditions such as a chest infection which you have or had in the past. If this happens you have another scan about 3 months later to take another look. In most cases the second look shows no change. Some people might be referred to see a specialist doctor for more tests. 

Blood test
You give a sample of blood at each visit. Researchers analyse the samples to see if they can find lung or other cancers in the blood. You will not be informed about the test result as they are performed at the end of the study. 

Follow up
After you have had your final lung health check you will not need to do anything more for this study. 

The research team check your medical records and hospital notes to see how you are. They might contact your GP. They also use national data sources and cancer registries Open a glossary item. These collect information about people diagnosed with cancer and other diseases.

Hospital visits

You have 3 visits to a lung health centre. You might have some extra visits if you need more scans but the research team let you know if this applies to you.

Side effects

Exposure to radiation during a CT scan can slightly increase your risk of developing cancer in the future. But the risk from the low dose CT scans is very small when compared with the risk of developing lung cancer due to smoking.

Sometimes the scans might find a lung cancer that would not have caused any harm. This means it may be that some people might have lung cancer treatment they didn’t need. At the moment it is not possible to tell the difference between cancers that are harmless and those that need treatment. So, if a cancer is found you would be offered treatment. And these treatments have side effects. 

CT scans are very accurate but aren't perfect. Rarely, the scan doesn't pick up the cancer. So if you have any symptoms, such as a new cough you should contact your doctor. 

Speak to your GP if you want to know more about the possible benefits and risks of having a low dose CT scan. We have more information about having a CT scan.

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 Sam Janes

Supported by

University College London (UCL)
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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.

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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