5,000 people who came to the GP with symptoms were tested as part of the trial Image Credit: Pixabay

London: National Health Service (NHS) announced in a press release that a clinical trial has shown promising results in detecting cancer at its earliest stages through a blood test.

In 2021, NHS launched what it called the world’s largest trial of a revolutionary new blood test that could detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear. The Galleri test checks for the earliest signs of cancer in the blood.

On June 2, NHS National Director for Cancer, Professor Peter Johnson said the test was correctly able to identify two out of every three cancers among 5,000 people who had visited their GP with symptoms.

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He said, “This study is the first step in testing a new way to identify cancer as quickly as possible, being pioneered by the NHS – earlier detection of cancer is vital and this test could help us to catch more cancers at an earlier stage and help save thousands of lives."

Currently the test is only available to participants in the clinical trial, which is limited to the population living in Cheshire and Merseyside, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, the North East, West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, Kent and Medway, and South East London.

What is the test?

The blood test, research has shown, is particularly effective at finding cancers that are typically difficult to identify early – such as head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic, and throat cancers.

If found to be successful and rolled out to the public, this would increase the chances of effective treatment for a broad range of cancers which are usually untreatable if they are diagnosed late. According to the NHS, a patient whose cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage typically has between five and 10 times the chance of surviving compared with those found at ‘stage four.’

NHS in England plans to extend the rollout to a further one million people in 2024 and 2025