A new blood test, which is claimed can detect over 50 times of cancer at an early state, is to be trialled by the NHS from mid 2021. Health leaders believe that the new Galleri test could eventually save thousands of lives by increasing the number of cancers diagnosed at stage one or two, from half to three-quarters by 2028. Detecting cancer at this point increases the chances of survival from 5-10 times compared to detecting cancer at stage four.
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Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said: 'Early detection, particularly for hard to treat conditions like ovarian and pancreatic cancer, has the potential to save many lives. This promising blood test could therefore be a gamechanger in cancer care, helping thousands more people to get successful treatment.'
The blood test, which detects subtle molecular changes in blood caused by cancer, will be offered to 165,000 patients, aged 50-79 from next year –140,000 of whom will be symptom free and selected randomly from NHS records. The remaining 25,000 will be referred for already showing at least one symptom.
Some experts have warned that the test remains at an early stage and has not yet been properly evaluated, but the news has been broadly welcomed by cancer charities. Cancer Research said large scale trials for diagnostic tests such as this were, ‘essential for determining if they're effective, and a vital step in getting them to patients'.
If the results irate positive, the NHS plans to recruit a million new patients to a larger trial in 2024 and 2025.