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UK to trial ‘game-changer’ blood test able to detect more than 50 cancers

Web report/Dubai
Filed on November 27, 2020

(Reuters)

Researchers hopes Galleri trial will prove crucial for early diagnosis and save thousands of lives every year.

Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is to trial a ground-breaking blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer at an early stage.

In a world first, the Galleri test – described as the ‘holy grail’ for cancer – will be administered to 165,000 patients next year.

The test has been made by the US company Grail.

If successful, it will be rolled out to more than a million people within the next five years and could be widely available within the decade, Britain's MailOnline reported on Thursday.

The test works by looking for DNA released by tumours into the blood – crucially even before a patient has symptoms.

British health officials have hailed it as a major breakthrough in the fight against cancer given its potential to save thousands of lives every year by flagging up cancer early.

According to MailOnline, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, hailed it as a ‘game-changer’.

The test could be particularly impactful, he said, for cancers that are notoriously difficult to diagnose such as ovarian, kidney, pancreatic, oesophageal, head, neck and some blood cancers. He said: ‘Early detection – particularly for hard-to-treat conditions – has the potential to save many lives.

"This promising blood test could therefore be a game-changer in cancer care, helping thousands more people to get successful treatment. This trial again confirms that the NHS is at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments and technology."

The test will be piloted with 165,000 patients in a world-first deal struck by NHS England.

According to NHS England, the Grail pilot, which is due to start in mid-2021, will involve 165,000 people.

That will include 140,000 participants aged 50 to 79 who have no symptoms but will have annual blood tests for three years.

People will be identified through NHS records and approached to take part. Anyone with a positive test will be referred for investigation in the NHS.

Another 25,000 people with possible cancer symptoms will also be offered testing to speed up their diagnosis after being referred to hospital in the normal way.

Results of these studies would be expected by 2023, and if outcomes are positive, then they would be expanded to involve around one million participants across 2024 and 2025.

While the test has been widely applauded by the UK medical fraternity, Professor Paul Pharoah, professor of cancer epidemiology, University of Cambridge, told the BBC that the NHS "should not be investing in such a test before it has been adequately evaluated in well-conducted, large-scale clinical trials."





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