What are the trial Galleri cancer tests being offered on NHS England?

By Jack Gevertz

In a world-first, the NHS is set to offer revolutionary cancer tests, which can indicate different cancers before their symptoms even show.

One hundred and forty thousand volunteers are being recruited to help the roll-out of the Galleri-NHS trial of the tests, which will initially see take-up at a range of community-based locations.

And take-up is important because any signs of cancer which are found early, such as those caught in stage one or two, have more of a chance of being cured and of being less aggressive.

Read More: When will smoking outdoors be illegal in the UK?

How do the Galleri cancer tests work?

According to NHS England, the Galleri cancer tests are a simple tool that research has shown can identify cancers that are typically difficult to identify early on. These include neck and head cancers, bowel, lung, pancreatic and throat cancers.

They can identify cancer by locating fragments of genetic code-cell-free DNA that leak from tumours into the bloodstream following a chemical change.

How do I take part in the Galleri cancer test trial?

Participants who are from eight areas of England, including Cheshire and Merseyside, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, the North East, the West Midlands, the East Midlands, East of England, Kent and Medway, and South East London, will be the only ones at present invited to be included in the study.

Letters have already been sent out to thousands of people who are from different backgrounds but aged between 50 and 77 seeking if they wish to take part.

At a mobile clinic or community-based location, those who come forward will be asked to give their blood sample, and that process will repeat after 12 months and again after 2 years.

Grail, which developed the test, is working with Cancer Research UK, King’s College London and the NHS on the trials.

How long is the Galleri cancer test trial?

The NHS says it expects to receive results from the trial in 2023, with a further one million people being allowed to take part in 2024 and 2025 if the results come back a success.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “The UK’s world-leading scientists continue to pioneer innovative cancer diagnosis and treatments so our brilliant NHS staff have the tools to spot the disease as early as possible and give people the care they need.

“Early diagnosis can save lives and this revolutionary new test can detect cancers before symptoms even appear, giving people the best possible chance of beating the disease.

“Ensuring fewer people need treatment for advanced cancer is vital for patient care and another example of the NHS innovating to be more efficient – which will be crucial in bringing down the backlog.”

Prof Peter Sasieni, Director of The Cancer Research UK & King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit and one of the trial’s lead investigators, added: “We need to study the Galleri test carefully to find out whether it can significantly reduce the number of cancers diagnosed at a late stage.

“The test could be a game-changer for early cancer detection and we are excited to be leading this important research. Cancer screening can find cancers earlier when they are more likely to be treated successfully, but not all types of screening work.”

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