New blood test by Menlo Park company can detect up to 50 types of cancer in early stages

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- After years of research a new technology is being heralded as a potential game changer in the fight against cancer.

Leading the charge is a Menlo Park based company called GRAIL, who has helped develop a new blood test, called Galleri, that can detect up to 50 different types of cancer at once- many of which are not routinely checked.

"We simply can't win this war by screening one cancer at a time. We have to take a multi-cancer approach to this," said Dr. Sarah Moseley, who works at GRAIL.

Dr. Moseley says the way Galleri works is by analyzing DNA in the blood to determine whether or not cancer cells are present.

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"So we've known for a long time that cancer cells shed DNA into the blood. But it's taken a long time for the technology to get to a point where we can do this in a highly specific and sensitive way," she said.

But it's not just GRAIL who is excited about the long term benefits. Local health experts say technology like this could change the game for how we detect cancer.

And that early detection could make a world of difference for patient outcomes, says UCSF assistant professor, Dr. Sam Brondfield.

"It may be the difference between a curable cancer versus a not curable cancer. When cancers are caught early they can often be surgically removed and cured, whereas if they're left in the body long enough they may well start to spread," Dr. Brondfield said.

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Dr. Brondfield says while technology like this is a major step forward, at this point in time, it should still be treated as a supplemental tool used by doctors.

"People should definitely still be doing the screening tests recommended by their doctors to detect cancers early, like mammograms and other different types of cancer," he said.

The Galleri test is by prescription only and currently costs a little less than $1000. But Dr. Moseley says GRAIL is working hard to make it more universally accessible as time goes on.

"We're very committed to doing whatever we can to reduce the costs, make this accessible to populations that don't have access today, so that we can have an impact in the communities where cancer is a real issue," she said.

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