Our research into lung cancer
120 years of life-saving discoveries
Our scientists have been at the forefront of cancer research since 1902.
Thanks to you, we’ve come so far. And we will go much further.
Together, we will beat cancer.
Our research is saving lives
Lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK. We played a vital role in reducing the burden of lung cancer through our work to lower smoking rates and protect people from second-hand smoke, but it's still the leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK. Lung cancer survival has lagged behind other cancers, so our scientists are leading the quest for better treatments to bring hope to patients.
TRACERx research breakthroughs
The world's largest cancer evolution study
TRACERx is our flagship multimillion-pound investment in lung cancer research and is revolutionising the way we think about lung cancer. Since 2014, it's uncovered new insights into how tumours evolve over time and in response to treatments. This vital information has changed how we view lung cancer and opened the door to find new ways to treat it more effectively.
Catching cancer in the blood
Early TRACERx research revealed that a simple blood test can predict whether a person’s cancer will return after surgery. By detecting traces of tumour DNA in the blood, researchers can tell whether the disease will return up to a year before the tumour is seen on a scan.
Linking lung cancer and air pollution
Most recently, results from TRACERx have shed light on how air pollution could cause cancer in people who have never smoked. Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute and University College London found that exposure to air pollution promotes the growth of cells carrying cancer-causing mutations in the lungs.
Sharing data to tackle the grand challenges
The TRACERx study has also generated a wealth of data that has been made available to other scientists to use. For example, the Cancer Grand Challenges team CANCAN are tapping into this data to explore cancer cachexia – a wasting syndrome many people with cancer experience characterised by extensive weight loss – in people with lung cancer.
Hear from Professor Charles Swanton
Professor Charlie Swanton, our chief clinician, is the lead investigator on TRACERx. In our podcast Cancer Research Matters, he talks about the profound changes in the way the research community thinks about lung cancer, the power of the translational mind-set and delves into the world of our flagship lung study.
In November 2022, Cancer Research UK announced TRACERx EVO. The TRACERx EVO consortium involves international experts from across Europe and North America – combining world-leading scientific and clinical expertise to build on the wide-reaching foundations laid by TRACERx.