Northumberland and South Tyneside have been selected within the North East and North Cumbria 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 aged 50 to 77 are being asked to look out over the coming days for a letter from the NHS inviting them to take part in the trial.
Participants must not have had a cancer diagnosis or treatment in the last three years and have no concerning symptoms. They will have a small blood sample taken at mobile clinics that will visit Northumberland at the end of April and throughout May as well as South Tyneside in May. Participants will be invited back after 12 months, and again at two years, to give further blood samples.
The potentially lifesaving Galleri™ test checks for the 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 South Tyneside and Northumberland, 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.
Dr Hassan Tahir, primary care lead on the GRAIL project for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said most people were now aware of the benefits of finding cancer earlier when it is easier to treat.
“By taking part in this trial, people in South Tyneside and Northumberland will be at the forefront of developing a test that has the potential to save lives from cancer in England and around the world,” he said.
“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. If you receive a letter do please consider being part of the trial. The test is a simple blood test that has the potential for identifying cancers at an early stage, this includes head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic, and throat cancers.”
Dr Robin Hudson, medical director at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), added: “At Northumberland CCG, we are very excited about this ground-breaking study into early cancer detection. We would encourage everyone who is eligible to take part as we believe it could make a huge difference to our population by preventing lives being cut short by this awful disease.”
The Northern Cancer Alliance is helping to ensure participants who test positive in this region 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 still to 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 also predict where the cancer is in the body.”
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’.
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.
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