NHS to pilot potentially revolutionary blood test that detects more than 50 cancers

NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens has announced the NHS will pilot a world-leading innovative blood test that may spot more than 50 types of cancer.

The test will be piloted with 165,000 patients. 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. Results of these studies would be expected by 2023, and if outcomes are positive, then they would be expanded to involve around 1 million participants across 2024 and 2025. 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. If the NHS programme shows the test also works as expected for people without symptoms it will be rolled out to become routinely available and it could help meet the NHS Long Term Plan goal of increasing the proportion of cancers caught early.

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. This trial again confirms that the NHS is at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments and technology.”

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock said:

“We are building a world leading diagnostics industry in the UK – not just for coronavirus but for other diseases too. This exciting and groundbreaking new blood test from GRAIL will give us another tool to give more people the very best chance of survival, demonstrating how the UK continues to lead the way in using the latest innovative treatments to help patients. Many of us know a loved one who has battled against cancer and have seen first-hand the impact of this deadly disease.”

For more information, please read the press release.

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Published 1. December 2020 in News, News UK, Press Release