Rochdale has been selected as one of several places within Greater Manchester to take part in the world’s largest trial of a revolutionary new blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer before symptoms appear.
People in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale (HMR) aged 50-77 are being asked to look out over the coming weeks for a letter from the NHS inviting them to volunteer for the trial.
Participants, who must not have had a cancer diagnosis or treatment in the last three years will have a small blood sample taken at a mobile clinic based in Rochdale during the month of February. They will be invited back after 12 months, and again at two years, to give further blood samples.
The potentially lifesaving Galleri™ test checks for the earliest signs of cancer in the blood and the NHS-Galleri trial, the first of its kind, aims to recruit 140,000 volunteers nationally, including thousands in HMR, to see how well the test works in the NHS. The trial team is keen to attract volunteers from different background and ethnicities to ensure results are relevant for as many different people as possible.
Dr David Levy, Regional Medical Director for NHS England North West said: “Most of us are now aware of the benefits of finding cancer earlier when it is easier to treat. Galleri has already been taken up by other parts of the North West and by taking part in this trial, the people of Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale will be at the forefront of receiving a test that has the potential to save lives from cancer in the UK and around the world. Registering for the trial is easy – just look out for the letter which will show you how to book an appointment online or over the phone.”
Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance is helping to ensure that volunteers who test positive across the region are appropriately investigated and receive the best possible care within the NHS.
Alison Armstrong, Associate Director of Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance said: “If you receive a letter do please consider volunteering as soon as you can to get an appointment while the clinic is based in Rochdale.”
Dr Carolyn Walker, Macmillan GP and Clinical Lead for Cancer at NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group said: “What makes the Galleri-test so special is the potential to spot cancers long before symptoms even appear. Diagnosing cancer as early as possible means patients can start treatment before their cancer progresses and improve chances of survival.
We are delighted that Rochdale has been chosen to be involved in this important trial and I would encourage anyone who is invited to take part, to please do so as soon as possible. This is your chance to be part of some ground-breaking work to develop a test that has the potential to save lives, not just locally in Rochdale but across the UK and around the world.”
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 mobile clinic has already visited Oldham, Salford, Manchester and Trafford. It will move on to Wigan, Bury, Bolton, Stockport and Tameside & Glossop following its time in Rochdale.
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.
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.
Sir Harpal Kumar, President of GRAIL Europe, said: “We’re delighted to partner with the NHS to support the NHS Long Term Plan for earlier cancer diagnosis, and we are eager to bring our technology to people in the UK as quickly as we can. 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.”
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 compared with those found at ‘stage four’.