North East and North Cumbria have been selected as one of eight areas of the country to take part in the world’s largest trial of a revolutionary new blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.
People in North East and North Cumbria will be among the first to have blood samples taken at mobile testing clinics in retail parks and other convenient community locations in the area.
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 North East and North Cumbria, to see how well the test works in the NHS.
Dr Jonathan Slade, Acting Medical Director (System Improvement and Professional Standards) for the North East and Yorkshire, said: “The Galleri blood test, if shown to be successful, could play a major part in achieving the North East and Yorkshire Region’s contribution to catching three-quarters of cancers at an early stage, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.
“These quick and simple blood tests could change how we detect and treat cancers more successfully in our region, so if you are invited, please take part – you could be helping us to make a step-change in how we deliver cancer care for our local population in the future, whilst also protecting yourself from this significant and serious disease.”
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.
The NHS will be sending out thousands of letters inviting local people from different background and ethnicities aged between 50 and 77 to take part.
Participants, who must not have had a cancer diagnosis in the last three years, will be asked to give a blood sample at a locally based mobile clinic and they will then be invited back after 12 months, and again at two years, to give further blood samples.
The first location in the North East to host a mobile clinic is Middlesbrough. The clinic will stay there for a month before moving on to Hartlepool, Sunderland, Newcastle and Gateshead. People in Middlesbrough will be the first to receive invitations in October. Carlisle residents will also be invited to local provision at this time.
The NHS-Galleri trial is being run by The Cancer Research UK and King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit in partnership with the NHS and healthcare company, GRAIL, which has developed the Galleri test.
Prof Peter Sasieni, Director of The Cancer Research UK & King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit and one of the trial’s lead investigators, said: “We need to study the Galleri test carefully to find out whether it can significantly reduce the number of cancers diagnosed at a late stage. The test could be a game-changer for early cancer detection and we are excited to be leading this important research. Cancer screening can find cancers earlier when they are more likely to be treated successfully, but not all types of screening work.
“Joining the trial is easy, and we are particularly keen to attract volunteers from diverse communities in North East and North Cumbria to ensure the results are relevant for as many different people as possible.”