NHS rolls out cancer-detecting blood test

NHS rolls out cancer-detecting blood test

A new and simple blood test that can identify 50 different cancers and their location, seems to have started well in its pilot test involving 165,000 people, and is now being rolled out Nationally in the UK until 2023.

The key benefit of ‘the Galleri Test’ is that it detects cancer at a much earlier stage than CT scans or X-Rays and, with far less liklihood of metastasis, this may allow far less invasive treatments such as HIFU, ablation, cryoablation and Nanoknife IRE to be used.

The NHS currently finds that about half of all patients diagnosed with cancer are at stage 1 or 2, and wants to make this figure three quarters by 2028. If someone is diagnosed at stage 1, they have 5 to 10 times the survival statistics of someone only diagnosed at stage 4. Typically, ovarian cancer, brain cancer, lung and colorectal cancers are often diagnosed at late stage.

The Pilot 'Galleri Test' by a company called GRAIL from the USA, is a worldwide first by the NHS, and the project involved 140,000 people between ages 50 and 79 who were believed to be cancer-free, plus another 25,000 with possible symptoms.

The original research (1) from members of Dana Faber and the Mayo Clinic in the USA, showed that the test was 90 per cent accurate with only 0.7 per cent of false positives. The NHS Pilot test was only due to start in June so the NHS must have found early results impressive.

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University biochemist and a founder of CANCERactive said, “I covered this test in a Blog in 2020 stating that I was right behind it. I felt it was a ‘game-changer’. It is excellent news for patients; and excellent news for the NHS. Not surprisingly, Cancer Research UK criticised the pilot study.  I have been arguing since we started CANCERactive, that the earlier the test, the smaller the cancer, and the more modern treatments other than drugs and radiotherapy would come to the fore.

The Galleri test measures methylation; something that causes epigenetic changes around your DNA and results in protein message loss. Some people incorrectly call this mutation.

Mutation can cause message loss, but not all message loss is caused by mutation - far from it.”

Professor Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England and improvement said, “The NHS has set itself an ambitious target, to find three-quarters of cancers at an early stage, when they have the highest chance of cure. Tests like this may help us get there far faster, and I am excited to see how this cutting-edge technology will work out, as we test it in clinics across the NHS.”

Sir Harpal Kumar, President of GRAIL Europe, and former CEO of Cancer Research until 2018, said, “Galleri, a simple blood test that’s capable of detecting more than 50 cancers, and is a ground-breaking and potentially life-saving advance that could have a tremendous human and economic benefit.

Go to: Original Pilot Test Blog 


  1. Original research on Galleri Test - Annals of Oncology; Vol 31, Issue 6, 745; June 1st, 2020; M.C.Liu, G.R. Oxnard et al. https://www.annalsofoncology.org/article/S0923-7534(20)36058-0/abstract
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