Game-changing' blood test that detects 50 types of cancer to be available at Mayo Clinic

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic are readying a new form of cancer screening that they’re calling a “game-changer” when it comes to early detection.

“My dad, he was a healthy guy. He didn’t have any known risk factors for cancer,” Dr. Julia Feygin told CBS News. She was just 13 when her father died of pancreatic cancer. He was already at stage three at the time of his diagnosis and lived just nine months after learning of his diagnosis.

He was 40.

Now Feygin is helping to develop Galleri, a blood test that purports to diagnosis 50 types of cancers that can be both hard to find and extremely deadly, including pancreatic, ovarian and esophageal.

“If cancers can be detected early, we can dramatically improve patient outcomes,” Feygin said.

Feygin and her team at a company called GRAIL believe they can identify cancer through the DNA signature in blood by tracking the DNA shed by the cancer cells.

“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 if there is a signal for cancer present. We can predict with very high accuracy where in the body this cancer signal is coming from,” Feygin said.

The test results can be sent back in 10 business days. One study determined the Galleri test had a less than 1% false positive rate.

But there are currently some obstacles to the test’s availability.

The Galleri test can only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription, and perhaps more importantly, it is not yet covered by insurance.
The out-of-pocket cost is $949.

And the test is still in the process of getting full approval by the FDA. However, it can be requested during a doctor’s visit, and it will be available at a number of Mayo Clinic sites by the end of the year.

According to the American Cancer Society, cancers that have no screening recommendations account for 71% of all cancer deaths.