MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – No one wants to be told they have cancer. But the sooner you know, the sooner you can get life-saving treatment.
Mayo Clinic will roll out a new test that can detect more than 50 cancers by the end of the year. Doctors call it a game-changer.
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“My father, he was a healthy boy. He had no known risk factors for cancer,” said Dr. Julia Feygin.
Feygin lost her 40-year-old father to pancreatic cancer at the age of 13. When diagnosed at stage three, he lived for nine months.
“I am convinced that everything that happens has a purpose,” Feygin said.
She is now part of a team at the GRAIL company that is rolling out a blood test called Galleri, which she says can catch difficult-to-detect, aggressive and often deadly cancers such as pancreatic, ovarian and esophageal cancer.
“If cancer can be 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 sheds.
The patient’s two tubes of blood are sent to Galleri’s lab for analysis.
“We can find and sequence these tiny bits of tumor-derived DNA in the blood, and based on the patterns we see, we can reveal whether a signal for cancer is present. We can predict with very high accuracy where in the body this is.” cancer signal is coming from,” Feygin said.
The results are returned to the healthcare provider within 10 working days. An interventional study with Mayo Clinic with 6,600 participants yielded 29 signs followed by a cancer diagnosis.
Another study found a false positive rate of less than 1%.
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There are some caveats to who can get the test.
“It is intended for people with an increased risk of cancer. This could be something as simple as age.” said Feygin.
The test is currently only available by prescription. The insurance does not cover the test. You pay out of pocket with a current cost of $949.
“In the year 2021, this is so far above anything we have been able to do so far. This is a game-changer,” said Dr. Greg Plotnikoff. He has prescribed the test for patients and family members with risk factors, saying cancers are caught early 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 was over 60.
“If there was a signal, I wanted to know and be able to do something about it,” Plotnikoff said.
The American Cancer Society says that 71% of cancer deaths come from cancers for which there is no recommended screening.
Feygin says they hope to change outcomes for families like hers in the future.
“It really offers an unprecedented opportunity to bend the cancer death curve and really save so many lives,” Feygin said.
This test is intended to complement other screenings such as mammograms. The maker is still working on full FDA approval. You can ask your doctor to request the test. Before the end of the year, Grail Galleri will be available at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Jacksonville, Florida and Phoenix, Arizona. It will also be available at the Mayo Clinic Health System sites, in southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. M Health Fairview will also offer the test by the end of the year.
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For more information about GRAIL and the Galleri test, click here.
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