A NEW AND EASIER WAY OF DETECTING CANCER
For cancer, early detection is of vital importance. Early detection leads to more saved lives, as cancer can often be treated only when caught early on. A new form of detecting cancer has just been created that can revolutionize cancer detection and curability.
This new technology screens a blood sample for DNA fragments from more than 50 types of cancer, and it is called the Galleri blood test. This test, developed by the company GRAIL, aims to detect cancers earlier by looking for abnormal DNA shed from cancer cells into the blood. The DNA that is found in the blood, cell-free DNA (cfDNA), is shed by both tumor cells and healthy cells into the bloodstream. In order to only pick up on cfDNA that indicates the presence of cancer, Galleri uses modern genetic sequencing technology and artificial intelligence to scan for patterns of chemical changes in the cfDNA that come from cancer cells but aren’t found in healthy cells.
Although the tests are currently only available in England, they are on track to become FDA approved very soon, as their trial results have shown to be very promising. With there only being a false-positive rate of 0.5%, almost all cancer diagnoses from this test are accurate. The Galleri test has been able to correctly predict the location of the tumor 89% of the time. This is very useful in knowing which follow-up diagnostic tests the patient needs to confirm their diagnosis.
The initial data of the Galleri test is exciting. However, there are still many questions that must be answered before it can be widely used and approved – questions regarding how useful and effective it is and who it might be best to use it with and when – these answers will come with more time and more tests. England’s National Health Service (NHS) has been conducting trials in order to answer these questions and see if the test can accurately and reliably detect cancer in people who aren’t suspected of having cancer.
Although this test is going to be very beneficial, one test alone is unlikely to lead to all cancers being detected at an early stage. However, the Galleri isn’t the only test of its kind being created. In the past year alone, there has been news of blood and urine tests created to detect brain, bladder, ovarian and lung cancers, all at varying stages of development. These tests, as well as the Galleri test, are just the beginning of creating the technology that is needed to detect cancer early on and prevent it from spreading, which leads to more lives being saved.
Elizabeth Narins November 08, 2021. “A New Blood Test Has Been Shown to Detect More than 50 Types of Cancer-but Who Can Get It Right Now?” Health.com, https://www.health.com/condition/cancer/galleri-cancer-blood-test.
Ellis, Ralph. “New Blood Test Designed to Spot Cancer Early.” WebMD, WebMD, 3 Nov. 2021, https://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20211103/new-blood-test-designed-to-spot-cancer-early.