The NHS has announced a milestone of over 140,000 people registering to participate in the NHS-Galleri trial of an innovative blood test offering the ability to detect more than 50 types of cancer. Since the trial project launched a year ago, thousands of volunteers have undergone the blood test at over 150 mobile clinic sites across the country. Participants will now be invited to attend two further appointments, spaced roughly 12 months apart.
The Galleri test works by locating chemical changes in DNA fragments which are shed by tumours and enter into the bloodstream. The test is intended “to detect a cancer signal and predict cancer signal origin to inform diagnostic evaluation”. A full list of the cancer types it has the potential to detect can be found at this page.
The testing sites are in various locations, including places of worship, and at supermarket, leisure centre car parks. Those joining the trial were aged of 50 to 77 years old and did not have signs of cancer at the time of enrolment. While it is too early to report on the results of the trial, “a number of participants have been referred for urgent NHS cancer investigations following the detection of a cancer signal”.
Earlier diagnoses of cancers and expanded screening efforts are key pillars of the NHS’s cancer detection campaign, and its Long Term Plan. The latter aims to increase the proportion of cancers caught early, from half to three in four. For cancer detection at the local level, 90 Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs) have been established in easy-to-access locations and deliver MRI, CT and other services closer to patients’ homes.
Other initiatives include the use of drones to deliver chemotherapy, roaming liver and lung screening trucks and high-street pharmacies referring people with potential cancer signs and symptoms for screening.
“Whilst the first year of the trial may pick up cancers that have existed for some time, the second and third years provide the best opportunity to explore the expected benefits of picking up new cancers at an early stage when treatment is generally more successful. This will help us work out how the test might be used alongside the existing NHS cancer screening programme”, advised Co-Chief Investigator for the NHS-Galleri trial, Professor Charles Swanton.
“The NHS will not stand still in our efforts to catch cancer earlier and save more lives, rolling out new and innovative ways to detect cancers sooner; from roaming liver trucks, to genetic testing and high street checks, we want to make it as easy as possible for those most at risk to get vital, lifesaving tests”, said NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard.
Read more about the trial roll-out here.