Lung Cancer Study (LCS)

Molecular and Genetic Analysis of Lung Cancer Study

About Us

This National Institute of Health-funded study began in 1992 as a collaboration between Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health. Using a case-control design, data is collected from lung cancer patients receiving care at Massachusetts General Hospital. Controls (healthy family members and/or friends of patients) serve as a comparison group. Analysis on blood, tumor, or cheek cells is performed at a Harvard molecular epidemiology lab. We expect to enroll 8000 people in total.

The Research

  • Environmental factors including work exposures (like asbestos), diet, and smoking may contribute to disease. We want to learn more about how these factors, alone or in combination, may affect lung cancer development.
  • Genetic (inherited) factors may affect both the risk and prognosis of lung cancer. We want to explore why some patients respond differently to treatment, and how these inherited factors coupled with environmental ones may affect risk.
  • We are also interested in special subtypes of lung cancer, such as bronchoalveolar cell type (BAC) cancer, cancer in people who have never smoked, and early onset of cancer (development of disease before age 50). These cases may show different genetic and environmental profiles from other more typical cases.


Anyone who receives care (surgery or medical treatment) at Massachusetts General Hospital for a primary lung cancer (not a lung cancer metastasized from another site) is eligible to participate. This lung cancer should be have been first diagnosed within the past six months. Healthy family members (non-relatives like spouses) and friends may participate as controls (comparisons) in the study.

After signing a consent form, participation involves filling out questionnaires on health, work, and family history. This historical data will provide information on the many possible exposures that may be linked to lung cancer. A Food Frequency Questionnaire is also given to assess your diet within the past year. These forms take about an hour to complete. A biologic specimen (about 3 tablespoons of  blood, a tumor sample if surgery is done, or a cheek swab) will also be taken. Control participants (healthy volunteers who serve as comparisons) receive compensation (up to $50 for blood sample; $25 for cheek swabs) upon completion of all study requirements.

No specific individual genetic results will be given; data is analyzed at an aggregate level and anonymized to protect confidentiality. Participation is completely voluntary and will not affect care received at the hospital. After signing the consent form you can choose to decline further participation, and may withdraw completely from the study at any time.