Pan-Cancer Early Detection Study (PAN-Study)

Study code

Lead researcher
Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald

Study type
Participant re-contact

Institution or company
Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Researcher type

Speciality area

Recruitment Site


Cancer affects 1 in 2 people at some point during their life. The earlier the disease is detected the easier it is to treat it. However, detecting certain types of cancer early is not easy as there are often very few symptoms.

Recent research has shown that cells inside the body produce substances that end up in the lungs and are breathed out or ‘exhaled’. These studies have shown that those substances may be different if someone has cancer.

The goal of this study is to look carefully at the compounds someone exhales to determine if analysis of exhaled breath can detect cancer. The breath test is not invasive and it’s easy to perform. It could therefore be a good tool to screen people at risk of cancer. This study will help us to determine if a breath test for cancer can be developed. Such a test could help to treat the disease earlier and save lives. 

The volunteers in the study, would be asked to perform a breathing test. For this, they will be asked to breathe normally into a facemask for 10 to 15 minutes.  

Volunteers will provide an initial breath sample, then a second breath sample after ingesting an off-the-shelf peppermint oil food supplement, which is completely harmless. The active ingredients in the peppermint oil capsule will be absorbed in the body and observed in the exhaled breath this will allow us to investigate the differences in substances in exhaled breath depending on the metabolism of each individual.  

The healthy volunteers will not undergo any procedures other than breath collections, collection of clinical metadata and a telephone-based follow up at 6 months.