GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – Early detection is key when it comes to any type of cancer, but for many, there isn’t a test to help with early detection, like pancreatic cancer.
Now there might be some hope.
Grail, a health company, just announced the creation of a multi-cancer early detection blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer early on, including pancreatic cancer which is normally diagnosed at stage 3 or 4 because it is so hard to detect.
“In Wisconsin, roughly three people are diagnosed every day with pancreatic cancer, and two end up passing away from the disease so those are certainly frightening statistics,” said Steve Lipshetz with the Milwaukee Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
“So there’s this really big unmet need to have a test that can detect as many different cancer tags as possible at earlier stages so that patients can get into their health care provider and get treatment earlier,” said Dr. Julia Feygin, Senior Medical Science Liaison at Grail.
Feygin lost her dad to pancreatic cancer when she was 13-years-old and that’s why she joined the team at Grail.
“We’ve developed a simple blood test called Galleri that can detect over 50 different types of cancer,” said Feygin.
The test tracks cancer cells’ DNA, which is different from the DNA output of healthy cells in the body.
“Based on the patterns that we see, we can reveal whether a signal for cancer is present and we can predict with very high accuracy wherein the body this cancer signal is coming from,” said Feygin.
With more than 140 clinical study sites, the test has less than a 1 percent false positivity rate.
Feygin said the test is not meant to replace normal cancer screenings, rather help doctors pinpoint the cancer cells, faster.
“So we can give them some indication as to where the cancer signal is coming from and then they could initiate a more efficient and streamlined diagnostic workup with some direction,” said Feygin.
The $949 test is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration yet, but Grail is currently working on that. Right now, the test Galleri is considered a laboratory-developed test. Grail’s laboratory is CLIA certified and CAP-accredited which means it can deliver this test as a laboratory-developed test to physicians and patients.
The test is not covered by insurance, but that too is in the process of being worked out.
“There also is a bill, both in the House and in the Senate, that would require Medicare to pay automatically for any early detection tests that are developed and approved by the FDA, so that would sort of help us get people tested,” said Lipshetz.
Once the blood is collected, it is sent to a Grail lab to be processed. Feygin said it takes about 10 business days to get the results.
“Hopefully we can get to a place where the word cancer is not something that we’re all so terrified about, that it’s not a death sentence,” said Feygin. “That’s why bringing our multi-cancer early detection test into clinical practice truly represents a major step forward in cancer.”
“It would be a huge breakthrough to have a test that proves accurate that might one day be given routinely when you go in for your annual physical and your blood test,” said Lipshetz.
For more information about the Galleri test, visit www.galleri.com