Pre-symptom blood test that detects more than 50 cancers rolled out

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This cancer-finding blood test has gotten the green light. 

A blood test capable of detecting more than 50 kinds of cancer — before a person even shows symptoms of the disease — has proven accurate enough to roll out as a screening test for those at higher risk, including asymptomatic patients age 50 or older, according to a press release.

“Finding cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful, is one of the most significant opportunities we have to reduce the burden of cancer,” said Dr. Eric Klein, author of a paper published Friday that found the blood test boasts a very low false-positive rate and a high level of accuracy for predicting where in the body the cancer is.

“These data suggest that, if used alongside existing screening tests, the multi-cancer detection test could have a profound impact on how cancer is detected and, ultimately, on public health,” Klein added.

The test, developed by California-based company Grail Inc., is called Galleri and is now available in the US by prescription only, according to a separate press release. The process simply requires a blood sample, which is analyzed for DNA that tumors shed into the bloodstream. Genomic sequencing and machine learning are then used to further detect cancer-suggesting abnormalities, and results are available within 10 business days. 

The new cancer-detecting technology’s simplicity could make it a game-changer for not only those capable of affording the most innovative new medical care but also vulnerable communities.

“[A] screening test that requires only a simple blood draw could provide an option for communities that have poor access to medical facilities,” said Klein. “I’m excited about the potential impact this approach will have on public health.” 

Fabrice André — editor-in-chief of cancer journal Annals of Oncology, which published Klein’s paper — is also enthusiastic about the blood test’s potential. 

“Early detection of cancer is the next frontier in cancer research as it could save millions of lives worldwide,” André said in the release.

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