Mercy Hospital in OKC offers new blood test to screen for cancer

The exterior of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City, pictured in this 2014 file photo.

Mercy hospitals are now offering a new blood test that can detect markers for over 50 types of cancer — including several that are otherwise impossible to screen for — to catch the disease in early stages.

Nancy Dixon knew as soon as she heard of the test that she wanted to sign up.

Dixon, who works in media relations at Mercy and is based in Oklahoma City, lost her father to pancreatic cancer when she was 16. He was only 51.

“I am older than he was when he passed,” she said. “So this has always been in the back of my mind.” 

Pancreatic cancer is hard to catch early. It’s not among the types of cancers people are routinely screened for, and it’s typically diagnosed at stage IV, which can leave patients with few options for treatment. 

Nancy Dixon, a Mercy employee based in Oklahoma City, gets her blood drawn for a new screening that can detect signals of over 50 types of cancer. Dixon, who lost her father to pancreatic cancer, was one of the first patients to be scheduled for the test.

The new blood test, called Galleri, is a multi-cancer early detection test developed by the health care company GRAIL. While Galleri isn’t fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA gave it “breakthrough device” designation in 2019, which allows GRAIL’s blood test to be offered to the public while more data is collected. 

The test is meant to complement — not replace — regular cancer screenings, like ones for breast, colon, cervical, lung and prostate cancers. 

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