A study to learn more about non small cell lung cancer (TRACERx)

Cancer type:

Lung cancer
Non small cell lung cancer





This study is looking at non small cell lung cancer to see how it changes over time. The study is supported by Cancer Research UK.

More about this trial

Cancer varies between different people. Even in an individual patient, the cancer can change over time. In this study, researchers will take samples of blood and cancer tissue at different times over a 5 year period. They will look at them in the laboratory to help them understand which changes affect the way a cancer grows.

The aim of the study is to look at features of non small cell lung cancer, including genetic Open a glossary item factors to see how they change over time. The study team also hope to see why some lung cancers are difficult to treat.

Taking part in this study will not affect the treatment you have and there may be no direct benefit to you.

Who can enter

You may be able to join this study if you

  • Have non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that hasn’t spread beyond one side of your chest (stage 1A to stage 3A). Your cancer must be at least 15mm in size
  • Are going to have surgery to remove your lung cancer
  • Are well enough to carry out all your normal activities, apart from heavy physical work (performance status of 0 or 1)
  • Agree to have follow up appointments at a specialist centre involved in the trial
  • Are at least 18 years old

Some people joining the study may not have had a definite diagnosis of NSCLC, but from looking at scans, their doctors think it very likely that they have it. They can join the study, but if tissue removed during surgery shows they don’t have NSCLC, they will not continue in the study.

You can’t join the study before having surgery if

  • After looking at scans, your surgeon doesn't think they will be able to remove enough tissue needed for the study
  • You have chemotherapy before your surgery
  • You have had any other cancer in the last 5 years apart from carcinoma in situ of the cervix, non melanoma skin cancer or very early stage melanoma (stage 0, carcinoma in situ)
  • You have HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or syphilis

And you may not be able to continue in the study after you’ve had surgery if

  • Your surgeon is not able to remove all the cancer, or they find you have a different type of cancer
  • There is not enough cancer tissue left for the study after routine tests are carried out
  • You have chemotherapy that doesn’t include a platinum drug Open a glossary item

Trial design

The study aims to recruit 842 people. The study team will take blood samples when you join the trial. They will also ask your permission to get a sample of your cancer that will be removed during surgery.

The study team may ask to take a blood sample from a blood vessel in your lungs during surgery. This is called pulmonary blood sampling. You will have this done while you are under anaesthetic so won’t be aware of it. If you agree to this, they will ask you to sign a separate consent form Open a glossary item.

After surgery, your specialist will let you know if you need to have chemotherapy. Taking part in the study does not affect this.

The study team will ask your permission to get more blood samples and possibly samples of your cancer over a 5 year period.

The blood samples can usually be taken when you are having other blood tests as part of your routine treatment and follow up. But the study team will ask you to give extra blood samples if your cancer comes back, and if it then gets worse. They will also ask for blood samples when you have finished any further treatment you have.

The study team will ask for a sample of your cancer if it comes back or spreads to another part of your body. They will get this when you have a biopsy Open a glossary item or surgery to remove the cancer. They will ask you to sign a separate consent form each time.

Having a biopsy involves removing part of the tumour from the lung, or from the area of the body where it has spread to, such as the lymph nodes Open a glossary item, liver or bone. You may have a local or general anaesthetic Open a glossary item.

While looking at a CT scan or an ultrasound scan, the doctor puts a needle through your skin into the tumour and removes a sample. Or they may remove a sample of cancer from the lung by passing a flexible tube called a scope into your mouth and down into the upper part of your lungs.

The study team may ask you to have a biopsy more than once. For example, if your cancer gets worse and your doctor changes your treatment. This may help them to understand why a certain treatment did not work for you. And they may be able to use the information from the biopsy to see if there is an appropriate drug for your particular cancer being looked at in a clinical trial Open a glossary item that you might be able to take part in.

Hospital visits

When you join the study, you see the team and have some tests including

The study team will assess your general health and they will ask you to fill out a questionnaire about your lifestyle and whether or not you are (or have been) a smoker.

They will take extra blood samples when you have routine blood tests every 3 months for the first 2 years, then every 6 months for the next 3 years.

They will talk to you about having a biopsy Open a glossary item of your cancer if it comes back in your lungs or spreads elsewhere in your body. After this they will ask you to visit the hospital every 3 months.

Side effects

The risks associated with having a biopsy depend on where in your body the doctor takes the biopsy from. Your doctor will talk to you about this at the time and ask you to sign a separate consent form Open a glossary item.



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 Charles Swanton

Supported by

Academy for Medical Sciences
Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Rosetrees Trust
University College London (UCL)

Questions about cancer? Contact our 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.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

Rate this page:

Currently rated: 3.3 out of 5 based on 4 votes
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think