I have some very exciting news to share with you today. And as a refreshing change of pace, it has absolutely nothing to do with COVID-19.
Instead, we’ll be talking about the other “C” word—cancer. More specifically, about a new pilot trial slated to begin in the spring of this year, which will be investigating the efficacy of a cancer blood test.
That’s right… there’s now a simple blood test that may be able to detect more than 50 types of cancer.
Imperfect but impressive
This new pilot trial will be using the Galleri blood test from a company called Grail, which I have mentioned here before. And it could turn out to be a real game changer in cancer care.
The researchers will be testing 165,000 people. And the hope is that it will increase early-stage diagnoses for easy-to-miss cancers like ovarian and pancreatic cancer. If successful, this simple blood test could save countless lives by helping thousands more people to get lifesaving treatment before it’s too late.
But as with any test—whether it’s for cancer or COVID-19—issues like false positives and sensitivity are vital considerations.
Results from a different study of the Galleri blood test showed that the test was able to detect 50 different types of cancer with a 99.3 percent specificity, and a false positive rate of 0.7 percent. It was also able to correctly identify the originating cancer tissue 90 percent of the time.
But for the dozen most common cancers, the test’s sensitivity was coming in at 67 percent. (As I’ve mentioned here before, “specificity” refers to the test’s ability to accurately identify patients without the disease—in other words, its true negative rate. A test’s “sensitivity,” on the other hand, refers to its ability to accurately identify patients with the disease, or its true positive rate.)
Obviously, 67 percent is far from perfect. But it’s still pretty good, all things considered. (And let’s not forget that this test will not immediately take the place of your regular screening tests. It’s meant to be complementary.)
But how exciting would it be to have a test that, if positive, could point you toward more detailed screening—and potentially, a diagnosis, long before you started suffering symptoms and may only have a few months live.
A new age for cancer care
Now, the Galleri test uses sequencing to examine methyl groups on circulating DNA in blood samples.
This pilot trial will feature 140,000 subjects ranging in ages from 50 to 79 years old, none of whom have cancer symptoms. The researchers will administer the blood tests every year for three years. If a result comes back positive, the patient will be referred for further screening.
Another group will consist of 25,000 people with possible cancer symptoms. These patients will get the blood test in the hopes of speeding up a diagnosis upon referral to a hospital.
Results should be in by 2023. If successful, this new test could begin rolling out as soon as 2025! (And I’ll be sure to report on the progress right here in my Reality Health Check e-letter, and in my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter.)
But this isn’t the only cancer blood test in the works right now. As I shared a couple of years ago, the CancerSEEK test is able to identify eight of the most common cancers—ovarian, liver, esophageal, pancreatic, stomach, colorectal, lung, and breast cancer.
That test works by evaluating the presence of cancer gene mutations in circulating tumor DNA (which is shed from a tumor or tumor cells into the bloodstream), as well as the levels of eight different cancer protein biomarkers. In doing so, it’s able to screen for all eight of the cancers I mentioned above—which, put together, account for more than half of all cancer deaths in the country—with a surprising degree of specificity.
It goes without saying, but the sooner cancer is found, the better it is for the patient. It means less invasive therapy and longer survival times—and who wouldn’t want that?
Granted, there’s no such thing as a perfect test. But if Galleri lives up to its potential, a new age truly is upon us—as we are looking at 21st century technology that could completely transform cancer care as we know it.
In the meantime, taking care of your body remains the best insurance against cancer you’ve got. And if you’re looking for simple, science-based strategies to help prevent or fight this disease, look no further than my Essential Cancer Protocol.
To learn more about this innovative online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now.
“NHS England Starts Pilot Trial of Blood Test for Many Cancers.” Medscape Medical News, 12/04/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/942024)