A study looking at what happens before lung or bowel cancer are diagnosed (Empress study)

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

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Lung cancer





This study is looking at people who are diagnosed after an urgent referral from their GP and those who go to hospital as an emergency. It is for people recently diagnosed with lung cancer or bowel cancer.

More about this trial

If your GP suspects you have cancer, they will arrange an urgent referral for you to see a specialist. You are usually seen within 2 weeks and have a number of tests to check for cancer. But other people might be diagnosed as an emergency, via A&E, or after being sent straight to hospital by a GP.

In this study, researchers want to compare:

  • people who were diagnosed after their GP made an urgent referral to a specialist with
  • people who were diagnosed after going to the hospital as an emergency

The researchers want to look at any differences between the 2 groups. For example differences in their:

  • age
  • sex
  • symptoms and how far the cancer had grown or spread
  • social background (socio economic status)

They also plan to find out more about any differences in experiences of health care. For example, are people diagnosed at the hospital less likely to have seen their GP about their symptoms first.

The aims of the study are:

  • to better understand what happens to people in the year before diagnosis
  • to find out why people are diagnosed as an emergency rather than through their GP
  • to use the information collected to help reduce the number of people diagnosed as an emergency in the future

Joining this study will not change your treatment, and you won’t get any direct benefit from taking part. The researchers hope that the information they collect will help to improve the way people with lung and bowel cancer are diagnosed in the future.

Who can enter

You might be able to join this study if you:

  • Have newly diagnosed lung or bowel cancer, and
    • Were diagnosed after going to the emergency department of the hospital or after seeing your GP who referred you urgently to see a specialist, or
    • Were referred via the 2 week wait referral pathway 

Trial design

The study team need 460 people with bowel cancer and 400 people with lung cancer to take part. The research is taking place in the north of England.

If you agree to take part, one of the researchers or research nurses will ask you some questions about the symptoms you had in the weeks and months before you were diagnosed with cancer. And about your contact with health services, for example your GP surgery. The questionnaire takes about 20 minutes. 

If you agree, they will also look at your hospital and GP records to find out more about the care you had before you were diagnosed. 

Hospital visits

You won’t have any extra hospital visits as a result of taking part in this study

Side effects

There aren’t any side effects as a result of taking part in this study.

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 Una Macleod

Supported by

Hull York Medical School
National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative (NAEDI)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Queen Mary University of London
University College London
University of Hull
University of Leeds
University of Newcastle
University of York

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.

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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