Peterborough has been selected as one of several places across the country 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 Peterborough aged 50-77 are being asked to look out for a letter from the NHS over the coming weeks 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 in Peterborough Town Cricket Club, Dalrod Sports Ground, Peterborough, PE3 9UZ from 9th November to 10th December 2021. 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 Peterborough, to see how well the test works in the NHS.
The trial team are inviting people from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities to ensure results are relevant for as many different people as possible.
Dr Stuti Mukherjee, Macmillan GP & GP Clinical Lead, Cancer, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough CCG said: “Most of us are now
aware of the benefits of finding cancer earlier when it is easier to treat. By taking part in this trial, the people of Peterborough will be at the forefront of developing a test that has the potential to save lives from cancer in England 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.”
The East of England Cancer Alliance is helping to ensure that participants who test positive in this region get the necessary follow-up appointments.
Clinical Director for the East of England North Cancer Alliance, Dr Linda Hunter, said: “If you receive a letter please consider booking an appointment as soon as you can while the clinic is based in Peterborough.”
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 will move on to other locations in the east of England following its time in Peterborough.
The NHS-Galleri trial is being run by The Cancer Research UK and King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit in partnership with NHS England 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’.
Research has already found that the test can identify many cancer types that are difficult to diagnose early and treat successfully. In a group of 12 pre-specified cancers that make up nearly two-thirds of cancer deaths in England,  the sensitivity of stages I-III was 67.6% in a previous study.
Notes to editor
· NHS Digital is supporting through NHS DigiTrials, which allows secure and appropriate use of NHS data, helping clinical trials by reducing the time, effort and cost of developing new NHS innovations, bringing benefits to society and the NHS quickly and efficiently.
· The third sub-study of the Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study, published in Annals of Oncology in June 2021, found that the Galleri test can identify many cancer types that are difficult to diagnose early and treat successfully. In 12 pre-specified cancers* that account for two-thirds of cancer deaths in the US each year (and a similar proportion in England), across all stages the detection rate was 76%. The study found that Galleri detected cancer signals from more than 50 different types of cancer with a low false positive rate of 0.5% or a specificity of 99.5%. *Anal, bladder, bowel, oesophageal, stomach, head and neck, liver and bile duct, lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancers, lymphoma and cancers of the plasma cells, such as multiple myeloma.
· 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.
· People will only know they’re in the test group if they are among the small minority whose test detects potential signals of cancer in
their blood. These people will be contacted by the trial nurse by phone and referred to an NHS hospital for further tests.
· Prof Peter Sasieni, Director of The Cancer Research UK & King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit and one of the trial’s lead investigators, said: “We need to study the Galleri test carefully to find out whether it can significantly reduce the number of cancers diagnosed at a late stage. The test could be a game-changer for early cancer detection and we are excited to be leading this important research. Cancer screening can find cancers earlier when they are more likely to be treated successfully, but not all types of screening work.”