A study to find out more about the causes of lung cancer (ReSoLuCENT)

Cancer type:

Lung cancer





This study collected information to help find out more about possible causes of lung cancer that are related to people’s genetic make up or lifestyle.

More about this trial

There are several known risk factors for lung cancer. Smoking is the most significant. But there are other factors that may increase or decrease risk.

In this study, the research team collected blood samples and information about genetic changes and lifestyle from people with lung cancer, and their partners and relatives.

The research team looked at the information in the questionnaires and the genetic material (DNA) in the blood samples. They hoped to find out which lifestyle factors and genetic changes are important in the development of lung cancer.

The aim of this study was to set up a store of information about genetic and lifestyle factors for people with lung cancer and their partners and relatives. This will help the researchers find out more about what causes lung cancer and what doesn’t.

Summary of results

This trial recruited 1,390 people between 2006 and 2016. This included 524 people who had lung cancer, and 866 who didn’t (the control group). 
Various research teams have looked at the information collected in this and other studies, to find out more about the causes of lung cancer. 
The different teams have published a number of articles in medical journals. Some of the main findings are below.
Genetic changes
Researchers looked at a gene called CHRNA5 in thousands of people from a number of different studies.
They found that people who have a change (mutation) in this gene are more likely to:
  • be more heavily addicted to nicotine
  • find it more difficult to give up smoking 
  • develop lung cancer at an earlier age
The researchers are now doing further research to find out more about specific genetic changes that may increase or decrease the risk of developing lung cancer.
Giving up smoking
Another study compared people who smoke with people who used to smoke. They looked at who developed lung cancer and who didn’t.
The results showed that people who used to smoke but have stopped are less likely to develop lung cancer than those who continue to smoke.
When they looked at people who had lung cancer, they found that those who continued to smoke were diagnosed 7 years earlier than those who had stopped smoking.
This study also looked at the CHRNA5 gene. They found that people with a genetic change were more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer if they smoked. But not if they had stopped smoking. The benefit of giving up smoking is similar whether people have a change CHRNA5 gene or not.
The risk for people with COPD
Researchers looked at the effect of giving up smoking on people who have a lung condition called chronic obstructive airways disease (COPD).
They found that smoking increases the risk of developing small cell lung cancer (SCLC) in people who have COPD, more than it does in people who don’t have COPD. But that giving up smoking gradually reduces this risk again. 
Researchers looked at body mass index (BMI) as a measure of obesity. They found that people with a high BMI were more likely to develop some types of lung cancer including squamous cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). But they were not more likely to develop adenocarcinoma lung cancer.
They also found that as BMI increased, so did the number of cigarettes people smoked. They suggest there may be a genetic fault that links obesity and people’s smoking habits.
When they looked at other factors they found that people who had:
  • an increased level of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in their blood had a reduced risk of developing lung cancer
  • an increased level of insulin in their blood had an increased risk of developing lung cancer
These results show that this study has helped us understand more about factors that may increase and decrease the risk of lung cancer.
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. 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 who did the research. 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 P Woll

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Weston Park Cancer Charity
Sheffield Hospitals Charity


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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