NHS to trial reliable blood test for 50 types of cancer

November 30, 2020

An early-stage cancer detection blood test, designed to detect at least 50 types of cancer, will be trialled by the NHS in England for the next three years. Developed by US biotechnology company Grail, the test can detect molecular changes in the blood caused by cancer in people with no obvious symptoms – some 165,000 people with possible symptoms will be asked to take the tests as part of a pilot funded by Grail.

Developing an accurate and reliable blood test for cancer has been a difficult effort because the test sometimes doesn’t detect a person’s cancer when they do have it, or it indicates someone has cancer when they don’t. It is also crucial to detect cancer at an earlier stage to give patients a better chance at successful treatment and survival.

The NHS hopes the blood tests will help increase five-year survival rates for cancer patients in the UK, which are below the levels seen in many other high-income countries.

“This promising blood test could therefore be a game-changer in cancer care, helping thousands more people to get successful treatment,”said Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief executive.

Similarly, Cancer Research UK said large research studies of tests for treatments were “essential to determine if they’re effective, and a vital step in getting them to patients, if proven to work.”

The pilot has also drawn some skepticism – others in the medical community have cautioned that the blood test was yet untried and untested in a large-scale medical trial.

Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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