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13th September 2021

NHS launches world’s largest blood test trial to detect cancer earlier

View all Early detection

The NHS has launched the world’s largest trial of a revolutionary new blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer, including lung cancer, before symptoms appear. 

The first of its kind, the Galleri™ trial aims to recruit 140,000 volunteers across eight areas of England to check for the earliest signs of cancer in the blood.

The trial will see participants between 50 and 75 from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities have a simple blood test which is then examined for chemical changes in fragment of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leaks from tumours into the bloodstream.

Research to date has suggested the test is particularly effective at finding cancers that are often difficult to detect early, including lung cancer.

Dr. Chris Steele chatted about this exciting news today [13th September] on ITV’s This Morning.

Paula Chadwick, chief executive for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, comments:

“We know lung cancer can be difficult to diagnose early, with initial symptoms often vague or, in some cases, people are even asymptomatic, so we welcome this exciting new blood test trial. Any steps we can take to see more people diagnosed early must be thoroughly explored.”

Invitations are currently being sent out by NHS England to tens of thousands of people across Cheshire and Merseyside, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, the North East, West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, Kent and Medway, and South East London to see how well the test works in the NHS.

Participants must not have had a cancer diagnosis in the last three years.

Stuart Devereux from Runcorn will be among the first participants in the NHS-Galleri trial:

“Being able to contribute to this study that could save many lives was a very easy decision to make, and it’s not going to take up much of my time.

Working in the fire service, we save lives by preventing rather than fighting fires and in a similar way I’m keen to be involved in helping the NHS to trial new technology that can detect cancer before symptoms appear.

We will only make progress in tackling cancer if people come forward for trials like this.”

Participants will be asked to give three blood samples – a first upon recruitment, a second after 12 months and then a final sample after two years. Initial participants will be able to go to a local mobile testing clinic, which will be situated within convenient locations within the community, such as retail parks.

Preliminary results of the Galleri™ trial are expected by 2023. If the trial proves to successfully detect cancers earlier, NHS England will look to extend the rollout to a further one million people in 2024 and 2025.