Volunteers from Milton Keynes take part in important NHS trials to detect dozens of cancers by simple blood test - before any symptoms show

A small army of volunteers from the MK area are taking part in NHS trials to help beat cancer.

By Sally Murrer
Monday, 18th July 2022, 4:11 pm

Around 18,500 are from the East of England NHS region are taking part in the world’s largest trial of a blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer very early on, before symptoms appear.

Called the Galleri trial, it is the latest milestone in NHS cancer innovation, which aims to increase the proportion of cancers caught early from half to three in four.

In just one year since the project began, volunteers have come forward to have a blood test at mobile clinics in locations including supermarket and leisure centre car parks and places of worship.

Thousands have volunteered for the cancer blood test trial

The test works by finding chemical changes in fragments of DNA that shed from tumours into the bloodstream,

Initial research has shown t can detect cancers that are typically difficult to identify early, such as head and neck, bowel, lung and pancreatic cancers.

Temi, a nurse who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer, said the test and research drive to detect the disease sooner gave her hope for the future.

“I’ve seen first-hand that cancer does not respect people’s race or background. However, research into early cancer detection gives me hope for the future. So, when I got the opportunity to join the NHS-Galleri trial, I felt this was something I need to get involved with.”

Those joining the trial were aged of 50 to 77 years old and did not have signs of cancer.

While it is too early to report on the results of the trial, a number of participants have been referred for urgent NHS cancer investigations following the detection of a cancer signal, say NHS bosses.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The NHS will not stand still in our efforts to catch cancer earlier and save more lives, rolling out new and innovative ways to detect cancers sooner...,we want to make it as easy as possible for those most at risk to get vital, lifesaving tests.

If successful, the NHS in England plans to roll out the test to a further one million people across 2024 and 2025.