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Liverpool people joining ground-breaking cancer trial

06 Jan 2022

Participants in the world’s largest trial of a revolutionary new blood test, Galleri, which can detect more than 50 types of cancer often before symptoms appear, have now started to arrive for their appointments in Liverpool.

The response from local people has been so strong that all appointments for the mobile clinic while it is in Liverpool have been booked.

The selected residents, who are all aged from 50 to 77, responded to letters sent from the NHS within the last few weeks that invited them to participate in the NHS-Galleri trial. 

The participants, who have not had a cancer diagnosis or treatment in the last three years, will have a blood sample taken at their first appointment. They will be invited back after 12 months, and again at two years, to give further blood samples.

Dr Chris Warburton, Medical Director of Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance, said: “The response to the NHS-Galleri trial in Liverpool has been incredibly impressive. These people are contributing to a study that could prevent cancer deaths not just here but across the UK and around the world.”

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 Liverpool and the trial team will include people from different backgrounds and ethnicities to ensure results are relevant for as many different people as possible. Though all appointments are now filled in Liverpool, people invited to join can still contact the trial team to see if there are cancelations.

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 practice 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. Any participants whose results indicate a possible cancer will be urgently followed up in the NHS.

The mobile clinic stationed Sainsbury’s car park, in Rice Lane, during January will move on to Knowsley following its time in Liverpool. It began to receive patients on Tuesday, January 4th and will leave on January 29th.

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 earlier typically have between five and 10 times the chance of surviving at least five years compared with those found at a later stage. 

For more information on the study, see https://www.nhs-galleri.org/