The sooner most cancers are detected, the better the chances that they can be treated successfully.
The Mayo Clinic participated in research in a test that can detect more than 50 cancers. Doctors call it a game-changer, reports CBS Minnesota.
“My dad, he was a healthy guy. He had no known risk factors for cancer,” said Dr. Julia Feygin. Feygin lost her 40-year-old father to pancreatic cancer when she was 13. Diagnosed at stage three, he lived for nine more months.
“I strongly believe that purpose can be found in everything that happens,” Feygin said.
She is now part of a team at a Menlo Park, California-based company called GRAIL that introduces the blood test, called Gallery. She says it can catch hard-to-detect, aggressive and often deadly cancers such as the pancreas, ovaries and esophagus.
“If cancers are detected early, we can dramatically improve patient outcomes,” Feygin said.
Feygin explains that our blood contains a DNA signature. The blood test tracks the DNA that a cancer cell secretes.
Two tubes of blood are taken and sent to GRAIL’s laboratory for analysis.
“We can find and sequence these small chunks of tumor-derived DNA in the blood, and based on the patterns we see, we can detect if there is a signal of cancer present. We can predict with very high accuracy where in the body this cancer signal comes from, “Feygin said.
The results are sent back to the health nurse within 10 working days.
An intervention study that included the Mayo Clinic with 6,600 participants returned 29 signals followed by a cancer diagnosis.
Another study found a false positive rate of less than 1%.
There are some reservations about who can take the test.
“It is intended to be used for people at increased risk of cancer. This can be something as simple as age,” Feygin said.
Right now, the test is on prescription only. The insurance does not cover it. You would pay out of pocket with a current price of $ 949.
“In the year 2021, this is so far beyond anything else we have been able to do. This is a game-changer,” said Dr. Greg Plotnikoff.
He has prescribed the test to patients and family members with risk factors, saying that cancers that are caught early are in more treatable stages.
“If we can catch things earlier, we have a chance to make a significant difference,” Plotnikoff said.
He also chose to screen himself as he is over 60.
“If there was any kind of signal, I would know it and be able to do something about it,” Plotnikoff said.
The American Cancer Society says that 71% of cancer deaths come from cancers that have no recommended screening.
Feygin says they hope to change the results for families like hers in the future.
“It really provides an unprecedented opportunity to bend the cancer mortality curve and really save so many lives,” Feygin said.
GRAIL says the Gallery “is intended to be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, cancer screening recommended in the United States.”
GRAIL is still working on full FDA approval. You can ask your doctor to request the test.
Before the end of the year, the Gallery will be available at Mayo Clinic locations in Rochester, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Florida and Phoenix. It will also be available at Mayo Clinic Health System locations in southern Minnesota and Wisconsin.