The NHS have announced that they are ready to trial a blood test which has been developed by Californian firm, Grail. This blood test has the potential to identify over 50 forms of cancer by detecting molecular changes in the blood caused by cancer in people with no obvious symptoms.
It could accelerate diagnoses. We are told that this blood test could detect early signs of cancers that are usually difficult to identify, such as ovarian and pancreatic cancer. The hope is that it will boost the survival rates.
NHS England Chief Exec, Sir Simon Stevens, has said that early detection has the potential to ‘save many lives’. The BBC reports that over 165,000 people in England will be offered the tests from next year and if these are successful, there will be a roll-out of the testing to 1 million people from 2024. The aim is to increase the number of cancers diagnosed early, at Stage I or II, from half to three quarters, by 2028.
There has been a note of caution from University of Cambridge Professor of Cancer Epidemiology Prof Paul Pharoah who has recommended that the blood test be checked and vetted in large scale clinical trials before being rolled out by the NHS.