ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — When dealing with cancer, the best chance of survival is to catch it early. In New York State, there are 115,000 new cancer cases and 35,000 deaths every year.
New York just approved an innovative method called “Galleri” — the only blood test that can reportedly detect 50 different types of cancer in early stages.
“This is going to shake up the world of cancer in a positive way,” says Dr. Whitney Jones, a gastroenterologist and a senior medical director at GRAIL which invented the Galleri test. “This is a true paradigm shift. We’ve never had the chance to screen for those 45 or more cancers in the history of medicine.”
There are 12 cancer types that take up three quarters of all new cases in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. However before Galleri, there were only five common screening tests for the early detection of breast, lung, colon, cervical, and prostate cancers.
“Particularly some of the more difficult ones to spot like ovarian, bladder, pancreatic, esophageal, head and neck — those have plagued our society for years. The goal with Galleri is to detect these cancers earlier when they can be cured,” Dr. Jones explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
He says by the time most people make it to an oncologist, they’re already at high risk of death.
“They present with clinical symptoms — weight loss, coughing up blood, bleeding, etc. — that almost always entails a late stage diagnosis. By identifying those folks earlier when they’re asymptomatic, we have a much improved chance of finding that at earlier stages,” he says. “Only two out of 10 people survive more than 10 years once cancer has spread, whereas when you find cancer early, nine out of 10 survive.”
Dr. Jones says projections show of the people statistically likely to die of cancer in the next five years, Galleri has the potential to detect 70 percent of those cases and by saving approximately 100,000 lives per year, can cut death totals by 20 percent. The test can currently be prescribed in New York by a doctor to people 50 and older, since their cancer risk is 13 times higher.
He says the test has breakthrough approval by the FDA, and GRAIL has started the process to gather subjects for clinical trials. He estimates there are already more than 130,000 willing participants with the potential to add 150,000 more within the year.
Dr. Jones says the Galleri test can’t replace your annual mammogram or prostate exam, but it’s an added tool to make stopping cancer faster and easier.
“I think it’s a great comfort to know that science and technology is coming together to really solve one of cancer’s biggest mysteries,” he says.