NHS Trials 'Revolutionary' Blood Test That Could Detect 50 Types Of Cancer
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It's called the Galleri test, and it's going to be tried out on thousands of British folks.
It can detect cancers that aren't screened for routinely, and could even pinpoint where in the body they are coming from with great accuracy.
This test has the potential to save thousands of lives each year, because - as we all know - the earlier that cancer is detected, the more likely it is to be treated effectively.
The Galleri test works by looking for chemical changes within small parts of genetic code leaked from tumours into blood.
Certain cancer tumours are known to start leaking this DNA long before the person who has the tumour would begin to experience symptoms.
Whilst it cannot detect all cancers, and won't replace routine screening for cancers of the bowel, breast, and cervix, it has the potential to help and even save many people by catching their disease early.
In the USA, the test has been recommended for those over 50 or at higher risk of cancer.
The NHS trial is the world's largest, and will see blood samples taken starting today at a number of mobile testing sites in retail parks and other locations around the UK.
The health service also wants to get a recruit base of 140,000 people from eight different areas of England to see how well the test gets on within the NHS.
Letters have been sent to people between the ages of 50 and 77 from a variety of different ethnicities and backgrounds.
In order to participate, volunteers must not have had a cancer diagnosis within the past three years, and will give a blood sample at a mobile clinic, then asked to return after 12 months, as well as in two years' time to provide further samples.
The test has already been shown to be particularly effective at identifying cancers of the head, neck, bowel, lungs, pancreas, and throat.
It is being led - for the NHS - by Cancer Research and King's College London's Cancer Prevention Trials Unit, as well as Grail, who developed the test.
The first results are expected in 2023, and the project could be rolled out to another million people in 2024 and 2025 if successful.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: "This quick and simple blood test could mark the beginning of a revolution in cancer detection and treatment here and around the world.
"By finding cancer before signs and symptoms even appear, we have the best chance of treating it and we can give people the best possible chance of survival.
"The NHS has a successful track record of leading the way on innovations in cancer diagnosis and treatment, from CAR-T therapy to Covid-friendly drugs.
"The Galleri blood test, if successful, could play a major part in achieving our NHS Long Term Plan ambition to catch three-quarters of cancers at an early stage, when they are easier to treat.
"So if you are invited, please take part - you could be helping us to revolutionise cancer care and protect yourself."
The director of Cancer Research UK, and one of the leading investigators on the trial ,Professor Peter Sasieni, added: "We need to study the Galleri test carefully to find out whether it can significantly reduce the number of cancers diagnosed at a late stage.
"The test could be a game-changer for early cancer detection and we are excited to be leading this important research.
"Cancer screening can find cancers earlier when they are more likely to be treated successfully, but not all types of screening work."
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "The UK's world leading scientists continue to pioneer innovative cancer diagnosis and treatments so our brilliant NHS staff have the tools to spot the disease as early as possible and give people the care they need.
"Early diagnosis can save lives and this revolutionary new test can detect cancers before symptoms even appear, giving people the best possible chance of beating the disease.
"Ensuring fewer people need treatment for advanced cancer is vital for patient care and another example of the NHS innovating to be more efficient - which will be crucial in bringing down the backlog."