NHS to pilot blood test to detect cancers

A blood test to detect more than 50 types of cancers will be piloted from mid-2021 across the NHS.

The Galleri blood test, developed by GRAIL, is to be tested on 165,000 people, and if proven successful will be rolled-out more widely to help identify cancers earlier.

The test, which checks for molecular changes, can identify many types of cancers that are difficult to diagnose early, such as head and neck, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophageal and some blood cancers.

NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “While the good news is that cancer survival is now at a record high, over a thousand people every day are newly diagnosed with cancer.”

“Early detection – particularly for hard-to-treat conditions like ovarian and pancreatic cancer – has the potential to save many lives. This promising blood test could therefore be a game-changer in cancer care, helping thousands more people to get successful treatment.”

Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England and improvement said: “The NHS has set itself an ambitious target, to find three-quarters of cancers at an early stage, when they have the highest chance of cure.”

“Tests like this may help us get there far faster, and I am excited to see how this cutting-edge technology will work out, as we test it in clinics across the NHS.”

Participants in the pilot will be identified through NHS records and will be contacted to take part. Another 25,000 people with possible cancer symptoms will also be offered testing to speed up their diagnosis after being referred to hospital in the normal way.