Letters from the NHS are on their way to thousands of residents, aged 50-77, in Kent and Medway, inviting them to take part in the world’s largest trial of a revolutionary new blood test to detect cancer.
Kent and Medway has been selected to take part in this ground-breaking trial which can detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.
Participants, who must not have had a cancer diagnosis or treatment in the last three years, will be invited to have a small blood sample taken at a mobile clinic in Dartford between 26th October and 20th November. They will then be invited back after 12 months, and again at two years, to give further blood samples. The mobile clinic will move on to Chatham, Sittingbourne, Thanet and Maidstone following its time in Dartford.
The potentially lifesaving Galleri™ test checks for the earliest signs of cancer in the blood and the NHS-Galleri trial, the first of its kind, aims to recruit 140,000 volunteers nationally, including thousands in Kent and Medway, to see how well the test works in the NHS.
The trial team are inviting people from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities to ensure results are relevant for as many different people as possible
Acosia Nyanin, Regional Chief Nurse for the South East region, said: “Most of us are now aware of the benefits of finding cancer earlier when it is easier to treat. By taking part in this trial, the people of Kent and Medway will be at the forefront of developing a test that has the potential to save lives from cancer in England and around the world. Registering for the trial is easy – just look out for the letter which will show you how to book an appointment online or over the phone.”
The test is a simple blood test that research has shown is particularly effective at finding cancers that are difficult to identify early – such as head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic, and throat cancers.
It works by finding chemical changes in fragments of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leak from tumours into the bloodstream.
Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance will be helping to ensure that participants who test positive in this region will get the necessary follow-up appointments.
The NHS-Galleri trial is being run by The Cancer Research UK and King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit in partnership with NHS England and healthcare company, GRAIL, which has developed the Galleri test.
All participants will be advised to continue with their standard NHS screening appointments and to still contact their GP if they notice any new or unusual symptoms.
Sir Harpal Kumar, President of GRAIL Europe, said: “We’re delighted to partner with the NHS to support the NHS Long Term Plan for earlier cancer diagnosis, and we are eager to bring our technology to people in the UK as quickly as we can. The Galleri test can not only detect a wide range of cancer types but can also predict where the cancer is in the body with a high degree of accuracy. The test is particularly strong at detecting deadly cancers and has a very low rate of false positives.”
Initial results of the study are expected by 2023 and, if successful, NHS England plans to extend the rollout to a further one million people in 2024 and 2025.
The trial is the latest initiative launched by the NHS to meet its Long Term Plan commitment of finding three-quarters of cancers at an early stage by 2028.
Patients whose condition is diagnosed at ‘stage one’ typically have between five and 10 times the chance of surviving compared with those found at ‘stage four’.