Blood test to detect 50 types of cancer could be given to ‘a million people next summer’ Science and technology news
A pilot program could reportedly offer “a million people” a blood test that can detect 50 types of cancer starting next summer.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said the Galleri test – developed by US company Grail – has the potential “to change cancer treatment forever”, according to The Times.
The test detects fragments of tumor DNA that are circulating in the bloodstream. It can detect types of cancer that are not routinely screened for and pinpoint where the disease is coming from in the body with great accuracy.
The newspaper reports that Ms Pritchard said that if the preliminary results of the trial prove successful, the tests will be rolled out to a further million people from next summer.
It quotes her statement: “Our landmark NHS Galleri study, now in its second year, is the first step in testing a new method of detecting cancer before symptoms appear.”
“If the preliminary results prove successful, we will roll out the test to an additional million people nationwide starting next summer, with the aim of helping thousands more people be diagnosed with earlier-stage cancer.”
A researcher involved in an NHS study told a conference of healthcare leaders in Manchester that the blood tests could one day be carried out by people in their own homes, the newspaper reports.
The Galleri test is tested on around 140,000 Britons aged 50 to 77.
The test has shown promise in the test
Early cancer detection is vital for people to get prompt treatment and potentially save thousands of lives in the UK each year.
A study conducted by the University of Oxford found that the The test has proved promising in a trial involving thousands of NHS patients.
Of the 6,238 people in England or Wales in the study who visited their GP with suspected symptoms, the test detected signs of cancer in 323 of them – 244 of whom were subsequently diagnosed with cancer.
Most early-stage patients will be long-term survivors
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Overall, the test correctly diagnosed cancer 66% of the time, the researchers found.
The accuracy of the test also depended on the stage of the cancer – ranging from 24% for very early stage (Stage I) tumors to 95% for advanced disease (Stage IV).
The Galleri test is currently available in the US and has been recommended for people at higher risk of cancer, including those over 50.
It is also able to determine where in the body the disease originates with an accuracy of 85%.
The test does not detect all types of cancer and is not expected to replace NHS screening programs for, for example, breast, cervical and colon cancer.