A novel blood test that can detect for more than 50 types of cancer has shown promise to accelerate diagnosis and fast-track patients for treatment, according to results of a trial.
The trial, conducted by the UK National Health Service, showed that the test correctly revealed two out of every three cancers among 5,000 people with suspected symptoms, the BBC reported.
In 85 per cent of those positive cases, it also pinpointed the original site of cancer. The test is particularly good at finding hard-to-spot cancers such as head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic, and throat cancers, revealed the results presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting in Chicago.
Known as Galleri test, developed by the US-based company Grail, it is intended to detect a cancer signal and predict cancer signal origin to inform diagnostic evaluation.
The test looks for distinct changes in bits of genetic code that leak from different cancers. Spotting treatable cancer early can save lives.
Although not accurate enough to “rule in or rule out cancer”, the test was really useful for patients, lead researcher Prof Mark Middleton told BBC News.
“The test was 85 per cent accurate in detecting the source of the cancer – and that can be really helpful because so many times it is not immediately obvious when you have got the patient in front of you what test is needed to see whether their symptoms are down to cancer,” he said.
“With that prediction from the test, we can decide whether to order a scope or a scan and make sure we are giving the right test the first time.”
“The findings from the study suggest this test could be used to support GPs to make clinical assessments – but much more research is needed, in a larger trial, to see if it could improve GP assessment and ultimately patient outcomes,” Dr David Crosby, from Cancer Research UK, was quoted as saying.