Ground-breaking cancer study rolls into town


Participants in the world’s largest trial of a revolutionary new blood test which can detect more than 50 types of cancer often before symptoms appear have been arriving for their appointments on Bolton.

Selected people aged 50-77 in Bolton, who have received a letter from the NHS inviting them to participate in the NHS-Galleri trial, are being urged to book their appointment to attend the mobile clinic which is at Sainsbury's Trinty Street until May 21.

Alison Armstrong, associate director at the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance, said: “We know from other trial locations that slots at the mobile clinics book up rapidly so, if you have been invited, please do register for the trial as soon as you can. It is easy to book online or by phone by following details in your invitation letter, or checking out the NHS Galleri website. You could be part of a study that has the potential to transform early cancer diagnosis.”

Participants, who must not have had a cancer diagnosis or treatment in the last three years, will be able to watch an animation about the trial, ask questions and, if happy to consent, give a blood sample at their first appointment. They will be invited back after 12 months, and again at two years, to give two further blood samples.

Professor David Shackley, director of the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance said: “By taking part in this trial, the people of Bolton will be at the forefront of developing a test that has the potential to save lives from cancer in the UK and around the world. So, if you are invited, please take part – you could be helping us to revolutionise cancer care.”

Dr Tarek Bakht, NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group’s clinical lead for cancer, added: “Diagnosing cancer as early as possible makes it much more treatable and improves chances of survival. That’s why I’m delighted that Bolton is part of this important trial to develop a test which could save many lives in the borough and beyond.

“If you are invited to take part, please do so as soon as possible. This is your chance to be part of ground-breaking research that has the potential to transform the lives of not only cancer patients, but their families and loved ones.

“It is also important that people from different backgrounds take part in the trial so we ensure that the results fully represent everyone.”

The potentially lifesaving Galleri test checks for the earliest signs of cancer in the blood. The NHS Galleri trial, the first of its kind, will assess how well the test works in the NHS and whether the technology can be used as a tool to screen people with no cancer symptoms. The trial aims to recruit 140,000 participants nationally, including those who have now signed up in Bolton. The trial team is keen to attract participants from different background and ethnicities to ensure results are relevant for as many different people as possible.

The NHS-Galleri trial is a randomised control trial (RCT), meaning that half the participants will have their blood sample screened with the Galleri test right away and the other half will have their sample stored and may be tested in the future. This will allow scientists to compare the stage at which cancer is detected between the two groups. All participants will be advised to continue with their standard NHS screening appointments and to still contact their GP if they notice any new or unusual symptoms.

The test is a simple blood test that research has shown is particularly effective at finding cancers that are difficult to identify early – such as head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic, and throat cancers. It works by finding chemical changes in fragments of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leak from tumours into the bloodstream.

The NHS-Galleri trial is being run by The Cancer Research UK and King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit in partnership with the NHS and healthcare company, GRAIL, which has developed the Galleri test. Anyone whose results indicate a possible cancer will be followed up urgently in the NHS.

Sir Harpal Kumar is, president of GRAIL Europe, said: “We are eager to bring our technology to people in the UK as quickly as we can. We’re delighted to partner with the NHS to support the NHS Long Term Plan for earlier cancer diagnosis and grateful to thousands of members of the public coming forward to participate in the trial.”

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.

Patients whose condition is diagnosed at ‘stage one’ typically have between five and 10 times the chance of surviving at least five years compared with those found at ‘stage four’.

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