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ST HELENS COUNCIL: Cancer care boost

ST HELENS COUNCIL: Cancer care boost

St Helens Town Hall

A groundbreaking cancer clinical trial has been giving people across St Helens the chance to support a programme which could revolutionise cancer care in the future.

And residents have stepped up to help attend the NHS Galleri trial, as it made the borough one of its first destinations to visit on its national trial.

The trial is the world’s largest review of a revolutionary new blood test, Galleri, which aims to detect more than 50 types of cancer often before symptoms appear.

The mobile test clinic has set up base at Birchley Street Car Park in St Helens town centre and is welcoming people aged 50 to 77, who have not had a cancer diagnosis or received treatment in the last three years, and who have signed up to the trial after being selected to take part at random.

Cllr Anthony Burns, cabinet member for wellbeing, culture and heritage, said: “We’re incredibly lucky to have been chosen as one of the first areas to take part in this hugely significant trial and it’s no wonder that the people of our borough have helped to fill all the available spaces incredibly quickly.

“This study could help prevent people dying from cancer in the future and nationally 140,000 people will be taking part in it over the next three years.”

Those taking part in the trial will have an initial blood test and then will be invited back after 12 months and again at two years to give further blood samples.

The test checks for the earliest signs of cancer in the blood and the trial will see how it would work in the NHS and whether it can be used as a tool to screen people with no cancer symptoms.

Ruth du Plessis, director of public health, added: “The NHS-Galleri test is a really simple way that could potentially detect a wide range of cancers earlier and in particular can help to find cancers that are hard to identify early – such as head and neck, bowel, lung, pancreatic and throat cancers.

“We know that every step we can take to detect and treat cancers earlier gives people a much greater chance of successful treatment.”

The NHS-Galleri trial is a randomised control trial (RCT) – meaning that half the participants will have their blood sample screened with the Galleri test right away and the other half will have their sample stored and may be tested in the future.

This will allow scientists to compare the stage at which cancer is detected between the two groups.

All participants will be advised to continue with their standard NHS screening appointments and to still contact their GP practice if they notice any new or unusual symptoms.

It works by finding chemical changes in fragments of genetic code – cell-free DNA (cfDNA) – that leak from tumours into the bloodstream.

The NHS-Galleri trial is being run by Cancer Research UK and King’s College London Cancer Prevention Trials Unit, in partnership with the NHS and healthcare company GRAIL, which has developed the Galleri test.

Any participants whose results indicate a possible cancer will be urgently followed up in the NHS.

Initial results of the study are expected by 2023 and, if successful, NHS England plans to extend the rollout to a further one million people in 2024 and 2025.

Words: Aran Dhillon, Local Democracy Reporter

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