A multi-cancer blood test being trialled across the UK has shown significant promise in an early study, a global conference heard last week.
Researchers at Oxford University reported the latest results from a trial of the Galleri test to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. The 50 cancers that the test claims to detect include leukaemias and lymphomas, but not myeloma.
The test is also the subject of a major study within the NHS involving thousands of members of the public.
The Oxford study, called SYMPLIFY, involved 5,461 people referred with potential cancer symptoms by GPs.
The test suggested possible cancer in 323 patients – and, in 244 of those these, disease was subsequently confirmed, while 79 were clear of cancer.
Researchers say the test is not accurate enough to be used for diagnosis. However, it shows signs of being a promising screening tool to suggest the primary site of a cancer, and in this regard it was 85% accurate in identifying the source of the cancer.
According to the ASCO presentation abstract, the study found overall specificity for the test of 98.4%, and sensitivity of 66.3%.
The researchers, led by Professor Mark Middleton, write: “These data provide the basis for a prospective, interventional study in patients presenting to primary care with non-specific signs and symptoms with low, but higher than background, probability of being due to cancer.”
Speaking to the BBC, Professor Middleton said the test was not accurate enough to “rule in or rule out” cancer but added: “The test was 85% accurate in detecting the source of the cancer - and that can be really helpful because so many times it is not immediately obvious when you have got the patient in front of you what test is needed to see whether their symptoms are down to cancer.
“With that prediction from the test, we can decide whether to order a scope or a scan and make sure we are giving the right test the first time.”
Nicholson BD, Jason O, Harris DA, O'Doherty C, Park JES, Virdee P, Tonner S, Vargova M, Engonidou L, Riahi K, Luan Y, Hiom S, Kumar H, Nandani H, Kurtzman K, Yu LM, Freestone C, Pearson S, Perera R, Middleton MR (2023) “Large-scale observational prospective cohort study of a multi-cancer early detection (MCED) test in symptomatic patients referred for cancer investigation.” ASCO Annual Meeting 2023
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