NHS study reveals genuine promise for the multi-cancer blood test

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major NHS trial. Image source: GETTY IMAGES

Researchers report that a significant NHS trial has demonstrated promising results for a blood test capable of detecting over 50 types of cancer.

This development holds great potential in cancer detection and diagnosis.

In the NHS experiment, among 5,000 people who had seen their general practitioners for treatment because of suspected symptoms, the blood test correctly detected two-thirds of malignancies.

This discovery happened in both Wales and England.

Furthermore, in 85% of the positive cases, the test correctly determined the cancer’s main site. The Galleri test looks at particular changes in genetic code mutations that are released by different types of cancer.

The likelihood of survival rates increasing greatly depends on the early discovery of tumors that can be treated.

The researchers from Oxford University caution that the blood test is still in its developmental phase but have highlighted its potential to enhance the detection of various types of cancer.

Patients with symptoms like unexplained weight loss often undergo multiple tests and hospital visits to determine the underlying cause.

However, this blood test has the potential to streamline the diagnostic process by identifying a greater number of cancers.

In the study, which is the largest of its kind involving patients with suspected cancer symptoms, over 350 individuals were later diagnosed with cancer using conventional methods like scans and biopsies.

Among those who tested positive on the blood test:

  • Approximately 75% were confirmed to have cancer.
  • Around 2.5% of those who tested negative on the blood test were later diagnosed with cancer.

Although the blood test may not be precise enough to categorically confirm or rule out the presence of cancer, chief researcher Prof. Mark Middleton claims that it has shown to be of great use for patients.

In cases when the reason of symptoms is uncertain, Prof. Middleton emphasized that the test showed an accuracy rate of 85% in determining the origin of the cancer.

He clarified that the test’s predictive capability enables medical professionals to choose the best diagnostic techniques, such ordering a scope or a scan, so streamlining the initial testing process.

At the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, study results will be presented, highlighting the potential of this blood test for cancer detection and diagnosis.

‘More study,’

In addition to its use in patients with suspected cancer symptoms, the NHS has also been employing the Galleri test, developed by Grail, a Californian company, on thousands of asymptomatic individuals to identify hidden cancers.

Preliminary results of this ongoing initiative are anticipated to be available next year.

If successful, the NHS in England intends to expand the implementation of the test to an additional one million individuals in 2024 and 2025.

The Galleri test has shown particular effectiveness in detecting challenging-to-spot cancers like those affecting the head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic, and throat.

Dr. David Crosby, representing Cancer Research UK, noted that the study’s findings indicate the potential of the test to support general practitioners in making clinical assessments.

However, further extensive research in larger trials is necessary to determine if the test can indeed enhance GP evaluations and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Prof. Peter Johnson, the national director for cancer at the NHS, stated that the study is the first step in testing a revolutionary strategy for quickly identifying cancer, a ground-breaking initiative spearheaded by the NHS.

The test has the potential to discover more malignancies at an earlier stage, which might result in the saving of thousands of lives, he said, highlighting the significance of early cancer diagnosis.

This demonstrates how crucial continual analysis and improvements in cancer diagnosis are for enhancing patient outcomes.

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