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New blood test able to detect 50 cancer types

31 Mar 2020

Study data support blood test's ability to detect 50 types of cancer and identify where in the body the cancer is located.

GRAIL, a healthcare company whose mission is to detect cancer early, has devised a blood test that can "detect more than 50 cancer types across all stages".

The company's foundational Circulating Cell-free Genome Atlas (CCGA) study included more than 15,000 participants — some with, some without diagnosed cancer.

Data for the company's multi-cancer early detection blood test, which have been published in Annals of Oncology, demonstrate the technology has a very low false positive rate of less than 1%, through a single blood draw.

When a cancer signal is detected, the test can also identify where the cancer is located in the body with 93% accuracy.

Currently, the majority of deadly cancers do not have guideline-recommended screening tests available, and as a result, most cancers are detected too late, after they have progressed to late stages when chances of survival are much lower. When cancer is diagnosed after it has spread, the 5-year cancer-specific survival rate is 21%, compared with 89% when the cancer is diagnosed early and still localized.

Alex Aravanis, Chief Scientific Officer and Head of R&D, and a co-founder of GRAIL has described this as a "seminal moment in the field of cancer detection". He said: "We’ve built what we believe to be one of the largest clinical study programs ever conducted in genomic medicine."

The impact of early detection on cancer mortality can be modeled using data from the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program. GRAIL has also published new data modeling the most recent SEER statistics in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, showing that if all cancers currently diagnosed at stage IV could be diagnosed earlier, evenly distributed across stages I-III, cancer deaths could fall by 24%.

Clinical studies are still ongoing and additional findings will be made publicly available.

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