Cancer is a big killer all around the world, but we can save many people if we spot the disease early on. The trouble is, most cancers don’t start showing symptoms until they’ve spread in the body and become tough to handle. Also, we don’t have regular check-up programs for many types of cancers, like ovarian and pancreatic cancers.
This is why scientists are working on a special blood test that can check for over 50 types of cancers all at once with just one sample of blood. The test, named Galleri, works by searching for tiny bits of DNA that cancer cells drop into the bloodstream. By checking the changes and sequences in this DNA, the test can not only figure out if cancer is present but also guess where in the body it started.
The Galleri test has been tested in many studies with thousands of people in different countries. The most recent results, shown at a big medical meeting in Paris, showed that the test found lots of new cancer cases in people who had gone to their family doctor with possible symptoms, in England or Wales. Many of these cancers were found early and almost three-quarters were types that we don’t usually check for in routine screenings.
The test also showed a high rate of accuracy, meaning that it hardly ever wrongly identified someone as having cancer. Out of more than 6,600 adults aged 50 and over who took the test, only 92 got a positive result and 35 were confirmed to have cancer. That means that only about 1% of people who didn’t have cancer got a positive result.
The scientists believe that this test could be a big gamechanger for spotting and diagnosing cancer, as it could help doctors find and treat cancers before they get too big and tough to beat. They also said that the test could help other existing check-up programs, like mammograms and colonoscopies, by finding cancers that these tests don’t cover.
But, they also warned that the test is still being worked on and needs more checks before it can be used a lot in real-life medical practice. They said we need more studies to check how the test impacts survival rates and quality of life, and also its cost-effectiveness and practicality.
The Galleri test is one of several similar tests being developed by different companies and scientists all around the world. These tests could totally change how we handle cancer by making it easier and faster to find cancers when they are most treatable. However, they also bring some challenges and limitations, like ethical questions, rules and regulations, and logistical problems.
So, while these tests are full of promise and exciting, they aren’t ready yet to take the place of the normal ways we diagnose and screen for cancer. They should be looked at as an extra tool that can help doctors and patients make smart decisions about their health and care.
Dr. Sumeet is a seasoned geneticist turned wellness educator and successful financial blogger. GenesWellness.com, leverages his rich academic background and passion for sharing knowledge online to demystify the role of genetics in wellness. His work is globally published and he is quoted on top health platforms like Medical News Today, Healthline, MDLinx, Verywell Mind, NCOA, and more. Using his unique mix of genetics expertise and digital fluency, Dr. Sumeet inspires readers toward healthier, more informed lifestyles.