NHS Starts Blood Test Trial to Detect More Than 50 Types of Cancer

The NHS-Galleri Trial is being launched to evaluate whether a blood test may help identify cancer earlier when combined with standard cancer testing in people prior to displaying any symptoms of the disease.

The research trial is being organised by GRAIL Bio UK Ltd in partnership with NHS England and will be run by The Cancer Research UK and King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit, a team of cancer researchers and trial managers at King’s College London (King’s).

Detecting cancer before symptoms appear

Approximately, 140,000 volunteers in eight areas of England will be recruited to try the GalleriTM test, which may detect more than 50 types of cancer through a simple blood draw. The NHS-Galleri Trial will invite participants aged between 50 and 77 from various backgrounds and ethnicities that have not been treated for, or diagnosed with cancer over the past 3 years.

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.”

Identifying DNA from cancer cells

The test evaluates chemical changes in fragments of genetic code that leak from tumours into the blood, which is something done by certain cancers even before symptoms start to show. The ability to detect cancers earlier is very important as it can help facilitate treatment before the disease has advanced and spread. However, the test cannot detect all forms of cancer and would not replace routine NHS screening programmes.

Past research, published in the journal Annals Of Oncology back in June, evaluated how the test performed in 2,823 people with cancer and 1,254 people without. It was shown that the test accurately identified cancer in 51.5% of cases across all stages of the disease, with a very small false positive percentage of only 0.5%.

Professor Peter Sasieni, director of the unit and one of the trial’s lead investigators, said:

“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.”

The GalleriTM test was developed by researchers at GRAIL in the United States. GRAIL can use the services of logistics and supporting companies in the UK and outside the UK, such as companies that handle blood samples and health information, to help run the trial.

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