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NHS expands lung cancer blood test trial

A blood test which could help thousands of people receive earlier, more targeted, lung cancer treatments is being trialled by the NHS. The circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) test, which will be offered to 10,000 patients by next March, can identify genetic variants in a tumour through a simple blood sample.

Patients that receive CT scan results showing suspected lung cancer will have a small blood sample sent to a genomic laboratory for ctDNA testing, with results returned in around 14 days.

Cancerous tumours often release pieces of DNA into the bloodstream (known as circulating tumour DNA) and these can be sampled using a ctDNA blood test to identify key genetic drivers of tumours. Currently, tissue biopsies are used to confirm a diagnosis of lung cancer and samples can then be sent for genomic testing – but this new test could provide patients with these results faster, meaning they could start targeted treatment sooner.

The move from NHS England follows a smaller initial pilot which saw more than 2,000 patients referred for the service from 80 trusts across England. The pilot is now set to be rolled out to provide the test for up to a further 10,000 patients with suspected non-small cell lung cancer by next March – and could involve most trusts across the country.

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers, and around 34,000 people are diagnosed with it every year in England. Non-small-cell lung cancer is the most common lung cancer, accounting for around 80 to 85% of cases

Peter Johnson, National Clinical Director for Cancer at NHS England, said: “This new blood test that we have been piloting has the potential to help many more cancer patients access targeted treatments more rapidly on the NHS, to make personalised treatments available sooner, and ensure that people with cancer have the best possible chance of survival.”

The NHS England pilot is being managed through the NHS Genomic Medicine Service, and led by the North Thames and North East and Yorkshire Genomic Medicine Service Alliances. Commercial partners Guardant Health and Roche developed the liquid biopsy technology which is now used by the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust service known as Marsden360.

Professor Dame Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer for England, said: “This pilot is an exciting step in our work to bring more targeted treatments to NHS patients – the testing of thousands of patients with this innovative ctDNA test is part of our ongoing commitment to deliver a world-leading genomic medicine service and transform the way we diagnose and treat people – often with far greater speed and accuracy. This is just the latest example of the NHS collaborating with industry partners and leading the way in genomics by providing the latest, most innovative tests and treatments to help people live longer, healthier lives.”

 

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Pathology Horizons 2024

MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel, Bath
18-20 April, 2024

Diagnostics North East Conference 2024

The Catalyst, Newcastle upon Tyne
19 April, 2024

ECCMID 2024 - European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Fira Gran Via, 08038 Barcelona, Spain
27-30 April 2024

British Society for Microbial Technology Annual Microbiology Conference

UK Health Security Agency, Colindale, London
2 May 2024

EQA Reports: Interpreting Key Information & Troubleshooting Tips

ONLINE - Zoom
Thursday 16th May 2024

Participants’ Meeting: UK NEQAS Immunology, Immunochemistry & Allergy

Sheffield Hallam University, City Campus, Howard Street, Sheffield
24th May 2024

Access the latest issue of Pathology In Practice on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

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