A blood test given by GPs to patients with early signs of cancer could speed up treatment and cut NHS waiting times, research suggests.
Oncologists from the University of Oxford tested the Galleri blood test, which can detect 50 types of cancer and is made by the US firm Grail, in the NHS and recruited more than 5,000 people for the study.
Three-quarters of the people who got a positive result from the blood test had cancer, data published this week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual conference in Chicago show. Overall, two-thirds of people who had cancer received a positive test result, giving a sensitivity rate of 66.3 per cent.
Scientists said that despite one in three cancer cases not being flagged up by the test, the data show promise in speeding up cancer triage.
A specificity rate of 98.4 per cent — a measure of how good the test is at ruling out cancer as a cause of symptoms — shows the test holds great promise for being able to rule out when a person does not have cancer.
Of the 5,461 people in the study, 368 people went on to be diagnosed with cancer. The test gave a positive result for 323 people, and 244 of these were found to have cancer.
The patients were referred to the hospital for tests by their GP after expressing vague initial symptoms such as stomach pain and weight loss.