According to the BBC, the National Health Service of England announced that the study, which will last two years, will involve 140,000 volunteers aged 50 to 77 years. They will have blood tests taken, then they will be invited to take repeated tests in a year and in two years. The test will only be applied to half of the initially collected blood samples, with the other half forming a control group to test the effectiveness of the test.
“Our test has the potential to revolutionize cancer diagnostics”, - said Professor Peter Sasieni, Program Manager, Professor of Oncology at King's College London. "If cancer can be detected at an early stage, it dramatically increases the chances of curing the tumor."
Currently, cancer is diagnosed by donating a piece of tissue for biochemical examination (biopsy), which no one does without symptoms. Firstly, in some cases it is a difficult procedure, especially in relation to lung, bladder and prostate cancer, and secondly, it is not known where to look.
The new method is based on the detection of DNA fragments of cancer cells in the blood. It was created by Grail, a biotech startup founded in 2015 in San Francisco, specifically to develop methods for the early diagnosis of cancer. It was recently bought for $ 1.7 billion by the American pharmaceutical company Illumina Inc.
The test itself is known as Galleri. In the United States, it is offered for patients at increased risk of cancer, in particular those over the age of 50.
It hasn't been certified by the FDA yet, so most insurance companies don't cover it.
“The search for new technologies for diagnosing cancer using blood tests is ongoing all over the world, but until now it was at the research stage. Now my partners and I are embarking on a detailed test, the largest in history. The new method is particularly promising for diagnosing cancers that do not show clear signs and symptoms for a long time", - National Health Service Oncology Director Callie Palmer told the BBC.
The most common cancer in the British Isles is lung cancer, accounting for 20% of all deaths. Malignant tumors of the bladder, prostate and breast together account for 45% of deaths.