A blood test designed to detect more than 50 types of cancer at an early stage will be trialled by the NHS.
More than 165,000 people in England will be offered the tests from next year. If successful, the NHS hopes to expand it to 1m people from 2024.
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said early detection had the potential “to save many lives”.
While some welcomed the pilot, others cautioned the test was still untried and untested.
Developing a blood test for cancer has been keeping scientists busy for many years without much success.
Making one that’s accurate and reliable has proved incredibly complex – the danger is that a test doesn’t detect a person’s cancer when they do have it, or it indicates someone has cancer when they don’t.
This test, developed by the Californian firm Grail, is designed to detect molecular changes in the blood caused by cancer in people with no obvious symptoms.
As part of a large-scale pilot, also funded by the company, 140,000 participants aged between 50 and 79 will be asked to take the tests for the next three years.
Another 25,000 people with possible cancer symptoms will also be offered testing after being referred to hospital in the normal way.