Single blood test is a 'game changer' in cancer diagnostics

St. Louis-based Mercy is among the first to offer a simple blood test to detect hard-to-diagnose cancers at the molecular level — before it’s too late. The test is currently available in 11 Mercy hospital labs across three states.

Grail's Galleri test is able to detect the presence of 51 types of cancer DNA — before patients have symptoms.

"About 70 percent of all cancer deaths come from cancers for which there are currently no proven screening tests," according to the American Cancer Society. "These cancers are often diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they can be harder to treat."

At present, there are only five recognized age-informed screening tests, including mammogram and colonoscopy.

John Mohart, MD, chief clinical officer and communities president for all Mercy hospitals, told Becker's that about 800 patients have taken the Galleri test since Mercy began offering it in July 2022.

"Of those tests, 1.5 to 2 percent of tests came back positive, which is consistent with clinical trials," he said, noting he believes the test is a "game changer" when it comes to diagnosing cancer . 

"We are able to find circulating tumor or cancer DNA in a patient's bloodstream," Dr. Mohart said. "This means we can not only diagnose the presence of cancer but find the signal of origin in the body, which leads to next steps including biopsy CT or ultrasound, depending on the type of cancer."

The test offers extremely individualized results. "It's about being proactive instead of reactive. Taking a proactive approach to medicine is the key to saving lives. Early detection has the potential to give us more years with our loved ones, and that’s invaluable."

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