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Mercy offers novel blood test that can detect 50 types of cancer

Blood samples in test tubes
Samples of blood are collected and stored in laboratory tubes.

The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Test, or MCED, has received only "breakthrough status" approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration so far—which means it’s not yet covered by insurance.

A new test now available at Mercy Health System can detect more than 50 different types of cancer, the vast majority of which are not related to recommended screenings.

The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Test, or MCED,requires only a blood sample.

John Mohart, president of Mercy Communities, said MCED is a novel technology that looks for signals of cancer tumor DNA in the bloodstream.

MCED is the future of medicine, he said, "with these liquid biopsies where we obtain blood and see what's going on instead of going through different procedures."

"Currently, we only screen for four to five cancers in the U.S.," he said. "But 71 percent of all cancer deaths are caused by cancers we don't screen for at all."

Locating a cancer's source

Determining a primary cancer’s location can be frustrating for physicians, said Mohart. If MCED detects a cancer signal, it can often pinpoint where it’s located in the body.

Mohart said the test has a high degree of accuracy. "It's a very specific test, and it has a good sensitivity in some other predictive variables that we use."

Mercy was one of the leading enrollers in clinical research trials that brought the test to market, Mohart said. The health care system has been working for the past eight months to make it available to patients. Mercy began offering the test on July 12, and since then, Mohart said there's been a "huge" demand for it.

"It's extremely groundbreaking and really exciting because early detection is key," Mohart said. "Patients can have a longer, better and healthier life."

Who might benefit from the test

MCED is recommended for individuals ages 50 and over with a family history of cancer, and people of any age at high risk for cancer.

Mohart said the test is not intended to be a replacement for recommended screenings.

The test has received only "breakthrough status" approval from the Food and Drug Administration so far, so it’s not covered by insurance. The out-of-pocket cost for MCED is $949.

Those interested in getting MCED can either talk to their healthcare providers or fill out a form at

MCED was developed by GRAIL, an innovative healthcare company.

Mohart said this type of test is being developed by multiple companies, but MCED is the most advanced at this point.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.