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NHS to pilot potentially revolutionary blood test

A blood test that may spot more than 50 types of cancer will be piloted by the NHS in a world-leading programme.

The Galleri blood test can detect early stage cancers through a simple blood test, and will be piloted with 165,000 patients in a world-first deal struck by NHS England.

Research on patients with signs of cancer has already found that the test, which checks for molecular changes, can identify many types that are difficult to diagnose early, such as head and neck, ovarian, pancreatic, oesophageal and some blood cancers.

If the NHS programme shows the test also works as expected for people without symptoms it will be rolled out to become routinely available.

The test could help meet the NHS Long Term Plan goal of increasing the proportion of cancers caught early, which can be the key to reducing cancer mortality. Patients whose condition is diagnosed at stage one typically have between five and 10 times the chance of surviving compared with those found at stage four.

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 be a game-changer in cancer care, helping thousands more people to get successful treatment. This trial again confirms that the NHS is at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments.”

The pilot, which is due to start in mid-2021, will involve 165,000 people.  

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