The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has commenced the largest clinical trial for assessing healthcare company Grail’s Galleri blood test, which can identify more than 50 cancer types before symptoms emerge.

The Galleri test can potentially detect chemical changes in fragments of genetic code-cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid (cfDNA) that leak from tumours into the bloodstream.

The simple blood test can check for the initial signs of cancer in the blood, the NHS noted.

The NHS announced plans to initiate the trial of the Galleri blood test in November last year.

The randomised control trial will be conducted by The Cancer Research UK and King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit, along with the NHS and Grail.

A first of its kind study, the NHS-Galleri trial plans to enrol 140,000 subjects in eight regions across England to assess the efficacy of the test for use in the NHS.

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The blood samples from the first subjects in the trial will be obtained at mobile testing clinics in retail parks, as well as at various convenient community locations.

The trial’s participants must not have had a cancer diagnosis in the last three years.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “This quick and simple blood test could mark the beginning of a revolution in cancer detection and treatment here and around the world.

“By finding cancer before signs and symptoms even appear, we have the best chance of treating it, and we can give people the best possible chance of survival.

“The Galleri blood test, if successful, could play a major part in achieving our NHS Long Term Plan ambition to catch three-quarters of cancers at an early stage, when they are easier to treat.”

According to research so far, the test was demonstrated to be effective at finding cancers that are usually difficult to detect in the early stages, such as head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic and throat cancers.

Grail Europe president Harpal Kumar said: “The Galleri test can not only detect a wide range of cancer types but can also predict where the cancer is in the body with a high degree of accuracy.

“The test is particularly strong at detecting deadly cancers and has a very low rate of false positives.”

Patients whose cancer is detected in the early stages – either one or two – usually have a wider range of therapy options available, which can be curative and are less aggressive.

Preliminary results from the trial are anticipated to be reported in 2023. The NHS intends to expand the rollout to one million individuals in 2024 and 2025.