A study of fluorescence bronchoscopy or white light bronchoscopy to screen people at high risk of lung cancer

Cancer type:

Lung cancer





This study was looking at two different types of bronchoscopy to screen for lung cancer in people who are at high risk of the disease.

Treatment is most successful for lung cancer that is found at an early stage. Unfortunately, most people have advanced disease when they are diagnosed. So doctors are looking at new ways to help find lung cancer earlier in people who are at high risk.

This study compared two different ways of carrying out a bronchoscopy, a test used to diagnose lung cancer. The standard way used white light to look at your airways (bronchus Open a glossary item). The new way used white light and blue light. This is called a fluorescence bronchoscopy (FB).

The researchers studied pictures and samples of cells (biopsies) taken during both these tests. They hoped that FB would find early cancers that may not have been seen using a standard bronchoscopy.

Summary of results

The researchers found that fluorescence bronchoscopy showed up changes to cells in the bronchus more often than standard bronchoscopy.

93 people took part in the study. They were all between 40 and 75 years old and had smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day for at least 20 years.

Everybody had a standard bronchoscopy, a fluorescence bronchoscopy (FB), and biopsies taken from their airways

  • FB suggested there were changes to cells in the bronchus in 51 people
  • Biopsies confirmed that 27 of these people did have cell changes in their airways
  • 12 people had changes that were due to inflammation Open a glossary item
  • 15 people had pre-cancerous changes to the cells, which could go on to become lung cancer

The standard bronchoscopies suggested there were changes in only one person. That person’s biopsy showed they didn’t actually have any cell changes. Researchers call this a ‘false positive’

Any type of screening test must be accurate. Researchers call the ability of a test to correctly show up changes ‘sensitivity’. In this study, FB was a lot more sensitive than standard bronchoscopy at picking up changes to the cells in the bronchus that could go on to become lung cancer.

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 (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

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 K. Moghissi

Supported by

Laser Trust Fund

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 254

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials in the UK last year.

Last reviewed:

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