(CNN) –– The National Health Service (NHS) will pilot a simple blood test that can detect more than 50 cancers. The test is also expected to help thousands of people, allowing them to successfully treat the disease at an earlier stage.
This is a Galerie blood test, developed by California healthcare company Grail. The pilot program will include 165,000 patients in what the NHS described as the “first global agreement” in a press release issued on Friday.
Grail, whose work focuses on early detection of cancer, has been approved by several well-known investors. Among them are tech billionaire Bill Gates and Amazon founder Beef Bezos.
The NHS hopes the blood test will be particularly useful in identifying certain cancers that are currently difficult to diagnose and treat early.
“Early detection – especially for severely treated conditions such as ovarian and pancreatic cancer – has the potential to save many lives,” said NHS Executive Director Simon Stevens.
More than 1,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each day in the UK, he added.
The pilot program, which will start in mid-2021, will involve 165,000 people. 140,000 people aged 50-79 are involved who have no symptoms but will undergo annual blood tests for three years.
The remaining 25,000 participants will be people with possible cancer symptoms, who will be offered a blood test to speed up the diagnosis after being sent to the hospital in the usual way, the press release said.
The NHS noted that the results are expected in 2023. Then, it is expected that one million people can get the test by 2025, the entity added. And since then this option will be extended to the general population, according to the NHS.
In the UK, about half of cancers are currently diagnosed in stage one or two. However, the NHS aims to increase this figure to three quarters by 2028, according to a press release.
Grail said in a statement that based on the data from the model, “adding Gallery to the existing standard of care has the potential to halve the number of late-stage cancers diagnosed.” Which could reduce the total number of cancer deaths in the UK by about a fifth. ‘
The UK’s relative cancer survival rate in five years is below the European average, according to the UK Cancer Research Charity.
Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said the Galerie test was one of the new blood tests developed to detect cancer at a very early stage. Exactly when the disease is easier to treat.
“There are several clinical trials evaluating this approach. “And the publication of the Atlas Circulating Genome Consortium (CCGA) consortium examining the Gallery Gallery of 6,689 participants has given very encouraging results in more than 50 different cancers at different stages of development,” he told the Science Media Center.
However, not all cancer experts agree with the NHS pilot on Galeri’s blood test.
Paul Faroe, a professor of cancer epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, is one of them. Speaking to the Center for Media Science, he said he had questions about the pilot’s scientific basis based on the limited published research available.
“The Galerie blood test can detect blood cancer in people who have the disease at an early stage. “Although the evidence that it does so effectively is weak,” he said. “The NHS should not invest in such a test before it is properly assessed in well-conducted large clinical trials.”
Michelle Mitchell, executive director of cancer research in the UK, said tests like the one developed by Grail had “great transformational potential”. That is, if they are effective in early detection of cancer, he said.
Dr Ododi Moffat, head of early diagnosis in cancer research in the UK, said the results of studies outside the UK were promising so far. “But the sample size, especially for some cancers, was very small. “So they need to be tested on a much larger sample and with longer follow-up of patients who do not have a positive blood test to understand where they are failing to detect cancer,” he told the Science Media Center.
“Based on the evidence we have seen, the test is currently not as good at detecting stage I cancer, where it is small and does not spread to other parts of the body,” he added.
Amy Cassidy and Sarah Diab, both from CNN, contributed to this report.