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Large scale trial of a ‘revolutionary’ early-stage cancer blood test begins

A ‘revolutionary’ blood test that could detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear is to be trialled by thousands of Greater Manchester residents. The potentially lifesaving Galleri test checks for the earliest signs of cancer in the blood and the NHS-Galleri trial, the first of its kind, aims to recruit 140,000 volunteers nationally, to see how well the test works in the NHS.

King’s College London Cancer Prevention Unit and Cancer Research UK are running the trial, and participants will be aged between 50 and 77, never diagnosed with a cancer before. They will be invited to provide a blood sample at a mobile clinic unit, before returning after 12 months for another donation and after another 12-month period.

The test works by finding chemical changes in fragments of genetic code that leak from tumours in the bloodstream. Results from this large-scale trial are expected to be published by 2023, with a potential roll-out of the diagnostic tool to patients in 2024 and 2025 if the trial is successful.

The mobile clinic has already visited Oldham, Salford, Manchester, Trafford, Rochdale, Wigan, Bury and Bolton, with its latest destination being Tameside and Glossop.

Dr David Levy, Regional Medical Director for NHS England North West said: “Most of us are now aware of the benefits of finding cancer earlier when it is easier to treat. [The test] has already been taken up by other parts of the North West and by taking part in this trial, the people of Tameside and Glossop will be at the forefront of receiving a test that has the potential to save lives from cancer in the UK and around the world.”

The test could make a huge contribution to the NHS’s goals on early cancer detection. The NHS Long Term Plan has set an objective of the service detecting three-quarters of cancers at an early stage by 2028. A diagnosis of ‘stage one’ cancer typically have between five and 10 times the chance of survival, compared with those at ‘stage four’.

Natalie Creaney