Thousands of residents from across the West Midlands have volunteered to take part in an NHS blood test cancer trial.
Around 18,500 people from across the region have rolled up their sleeves to take part in the world’s biggest trial to detect more than 50 types of cancer, as part of the latest NHS drive to catch the disease early, when it is generally easiest to treat.
In just one year since the NHS Gallery trial started, volunteers from across the country have come forward to have a blood sample taken at mobile clinics in convenient locations, including supermarkets and leisure centres, car parks and places of worship.
The participants will now be invited to participate in two further agreements with an interval of approx. 12 months.
The NHS long-term plan committed to increasing the proportion of cancers caught early, when they are easier to treat, from half to three in four.
This trial is part of a radical NHS drive to tackle cancer, which also includes the successful rollout of targeted lung cars across the country, with thousands of people invited for checks each month in mobile vehicles, and hundreds of cancers diagnosed earlier.
The NHS says initial research has shown this blood test can help detect cancers that are typically difficult to identify early, even before symptoms appear – such as head and neck, bowel, lung and pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Nigel Sturrock, Regional Medical Director at NHS England – Midlands, said: “Detecting cancer early is key to improving cancer outcomes in the West Midlands, which is why we are hugely supportive of the NHS Gallery trial, making it as easy as possible for those who are most at risk of receiving vital, life-saving tests.
“We know that certain cancers are harder to detect and a late diagnosis can be devastating for patients and their families, and this trial means thousands could benefit from a diagnosis even before symptoms appear.”
Although it is too early to report on the results of the trial, a number of participants have been referred to urgent NHS cancer screenings following the detection of a cancer signal.
Those taking part in the trial were aged 50 to 77 and had no evidence of cancer at the time of enrolment.
Mobile clinics will return to cities from September this year and will follow up with volunteers approximately one year after their initial employment.
If successful, the NHS in England plans to roll out the test to a further one million people in 2024 and 2025.
The NHS-Galleri trial is run by The Cancer Research UK and King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit in collaboration with the NHS and the healthcare company GRAIL, which developed the Gallery test.