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New blood test for cancer

A new blood test capable of detecting 50 cancers at an early stage could be available on the NHS from summer 2024.

The test known as the Galleri Blood Test, currently in the second year of trials, uses tiny fragments of DNA belonging to tumours in the bloodstream to predict where a cancer signal may have originated. 

The blood test is a liquid biopsy, and recent trials involving 140,000 volunteers between the ages of 50 and 77 have shown it can locate the site of a patient’s cancer in 85% of cases. Studies have shown that around 40% of people who receive a positive blood test result will be found to have cancer.

The results of the current trial are due in April 2024 which, if successful, could see the test rolled out to one million people in the UK in 2024. Gillian Rosenberg, Innovation Lead on NHS England’s national cancer programme advised they're keen to have a swift introduction into the NHS if the early results were promising.

This would make the NHS the first healthcare system in the world to offer a universal cancer check. If rolled out to one million people, it's anticipated that up to 5000 potential cases could be found each year. 

At a recent conference in Manchester, a researcher explained that it's hoped that one day the blood test could be performed by patients in their own homes, making it much more accessible.

Benefits of early diagnosis 

It's well known that when it comes to cancer, an earlier diagnosis generally leads to a better outcome. 

Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive said: “Lives are saved when cancers are caught early, and this test has the potential to transform cancer care forever – especially for the types that often don’t show symptoms until a later stage when they can be much harder to treat.”

In my experience as a medical negligence solicitor, I've represented many clients who have suffered delays in the diagnosis of cancer which can have devastating consequences. Through our investigations we often find that earlier treatment could have resulted in a much more favourable outcome for the client whether that be less invasive treatment or an increased life expectancy. 

With GPs being overworked and having to do multiple tests and investigations to diagnose cancer which can contribute to these delays, I believe a blood test that can detect cancers early would be life changing for so many people.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people and families affected by cancer at our dedicated cancer claims section.

Liquid biopsy could diagnose 5,000 potential cases each year if rolled out to a million people, say health chiefs”