Research

Galleri Blood Test for Cancer

Every Wednesday in November as part of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, we are highlighting innovative cancer research in our battle to improve survival rates. For this week's final instalment, we are looking at ground-breaking research into the Galleri Blood Test for Cancer.

Galleri Blood test

Research in England and Wales is exploring a new blood test that could detect a variety of cancers. So far, research into this test has been promising but needs to be tested further in larger trials. The test is called the Galleri blood test, and it’s made by a company called GRAIL Bio UK Ltd. It is not available in the UK outside of a clinical trial.

What does the Galleri blood test look for?

The test aims to find abnormal DNA in the blood. The cells in our body release DNA that circulates in the blood. There are differences in the DNA of healthy cells and cancerous cells. The test is designed to find these differences. The blood is tested for indications that might mean you have cancer.

The aim of this test is to detect cancers at an early stage. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance of a person being treated successfully. For pancreatic cancer, the only potential cure is surgery, and only those whose pancreatic cancer is detected in the early stages are eligible for surgery.

How will the NHS Galleri blood test be screened for?

The trial results from a partnership between NHS England and GRAIL. The trial team will use  the NHS records to search for people aged 50 to 77 who have:

  • Not been diagnosed with cancer in the last three years or
  • Not been treated for cancer in the last three years

The trial team are hoping to recruit 140,000 people throughout England who will be invited via letter to take part. If you decide to participate, you will have three blood tests over the course of two years. You will be placed in one of two groups:

  • One group will have their blood tested using the Galleri test
  • The other group will not be tested using the Galleri test but their blood will be stored and tested in the future

You cannot choose what group you will be in and you will not be told which group you are in. If you are in the group being tested and your blood shows signs of cancer, this does not mean you definitely have cancer, but that you might. Your results will be explained to you, you will be referred to a specialist at your local hospital and may have further tests.

All benefits and risks will be explained to your prior to having your blood sample taken.

Has it already been tested?

An earlier version of this test has been explored in America. These trial results showed that the test could detect more than 50 types of cancer, including those that are very difficult to diagnose, like pancreatic cancer.

To further this research, the blood test now needs to be tested in a larger number of people with both common and less common cancers. Also, the participants need to be followed for longer.

Important to note

If you notice any signs or symptoms of cancer, or any changes that are not normal for you, you should contact your doctor, even if you decide to take part in this research.

It’s very important to consider cancer screening when you are invited, whether you are part of this research or not. This trial does not replace cancer screening. There are three national screening programmes in the UK:

  • Bowel screening
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Cervical screening

Cancer screening is for people with no symptoms at all. If you have symptoms, don’t wait for a screening invitation and contact your doctor as soon as possible.

There is currently no screening test available for pancreatic cancer but it is a future goal for the pancreatic cancer community.