Publish date: 21 February 2024

Organisations developing a pioneering new blood test for cancer in West Yorkshire have renewed their call for patients referred to hospitals with a suspected cancer diagnosis to come forward and help speed up the test’s potential introduction to the NHS.

Patients visiting their GP surgery or hospital in Leeds, Wakefield, Calderdale, Huddersfield or Harrogate over recent months may have seen posters and leaflets for the ‘PinPoint Test’ – a collaboration between Leeds-based company, PinPoint Data Science; the University of Leeds, Health Innovation Yorkshire & Humber and the NHS, led by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance.

For the last two years, PinPoint has been undergoing an evaluation in the NHS to see how it performs in the real world, before being made available to the wider public. To date, more than 13,000 people on the so-called ‘two week wait’ fast track for cancer have volunteered to help by having a simple blood test.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Mid Yorkshire Teaching NHS Trust and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, along with more than 130 local GP practices, have been involved in the evaluation.

“The response from people in West Yorkshire has been incredible. Without their generosity we simply wouldn’t be where we are today.” said Giles Tully, CEO of PinPoint Data Science.

“After more than 13,000 tests done, we are now in the final stages of validating the PinPoint test for cancers such as bowel, skin and breast.”

Deehan Mair manages the PinPoint Test evaluation at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. She is passionate about the potential of this homegrown innovation and speaks to patients daily about how it might help people in their position in future.

“PinPoint could really help us with some of the most serious and common cancers in the UK. Take gynaecological cancers, for example. Over 22,000 people a year are diagnosed with cancers of the womb, cervix or ovaries. That’s 60 a day! It’s absolutely essential that we improve early detection to save lives.”

“PinPoint could be a really powerful tool in this fight but we need the help of the public to get us there. If you receive a letter from us in Huddersfield and Calderdale, please get in touch to arrange a blood test.”

PinPoint uses AI (artificial intelligence) to analyse a range of markers in the blood. The result of the test is a personalised risk score for cancer. The goal is for the test to help streamline the way people are referred for possible symptoms of cancer, reducing waiting times and focusing NHS resources where they are needed most.

PinPoint is still being evaluated in five cancer pathways. The NHS is appealing for patients that receive an invitation from their GP or local hospital to come forward and book an appointment for a test. Those receiving a referral for possible lung, head & neck, upper gastrointestinal, haematological – and in particular, gynaecological cancers are particularly encouraged to take part.

Innovation Programme Manager for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Cancer Alliance, Helen Ryan, said: “The PinPoint Test has the potential to transform the way we manage referrals for suspected symptoms of cancer. Last year, three million people in England were referred to hospital for investigation. Only 6% of those were found to actually have cancer.

“PinPoint could help us identify people in the 6% faster so they can be diagnosed and start treatment as quickly as possible," said Helen.

The PinPoint Test evaluation is only open to people who have received a fast track ‘2 week wait’ referral for suspected cancer. The trial is observational, meaning results are not returned to patients or doctors for now, but every test taken is vital in building the evidence base for an entirely new approach to cancer referrals. If you think you might be eligible, ask your GP surgery today.