Shifting the cancer screening paradigm

Multi-cancer early detection screening tests can change cancer as we know it

Published on June 11, 2021

Updated on June 18, 2021

Prevent Cancer Foundation invited Thrive to share this piece as part of their sponsorship of the 2021 Prevent Cancer Advocacy Workshop: A Patient-Centered Approach to Multi-Cancer Early Detection Testing.

Thrive. An Exact Sciences CompanyThis year marks a significant milestone in cancer care, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act of 1971, which established the National Cancer Institute with a charter and resolve to fight the “War on Cancer.” At Thrive, an Exact Sciences Company, we are full of hope about the future of cancer care and what lies ahead, because we are helping to write the script that will profoundly change the cancer screening paradigm. We believe our work will change what it means when someone hears those dreaded words, “You have cancer.” And through partnerships with cancer advocacy organizations like the Prevent Cancer Foundation, we are committed to keeping patients at the center of our mission, of our novel multi-cancer screening test, and of our vision for the future.

Cancer often devastates families, and it puts an enormous burden on our economy and strains our health care system. In this year alone, more than 600,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer1, and almost every one of those patients will die because their disease advanced while being undetected2,3,4. This status quo is simply unacceptable. For 70% of cancer cases, there are no routine screening options, including some of the deadliest cancer types such as ovarian, pancreatic and liver cancers.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Early detection is the key to more effectively treating cancer and reducing cancer deaths. Through a new type of screening called multi-cancer early detection (MCED), our aim is to detect cancer at earlier stages, before a person displays symptoms and the disease has spread.

Thrive’s MCED test detects the most commonly mutated genes and expressed proteins from multiple types of cancer in the bloodstream. Many of the cancers that Thrive’s MCED test can detect currently have no routine screening options, so this blood test would be able to dramatically expand the range of cancers that can be detected at early stages. Early detection means successful treatment is more likely, so we are confident that our MCED tests will have a significant impact on the fight against cancer and give cancer patients a chance for longer, better lives.

As a company, we always strive to learn and gain perspective from patients and leaders in patient advocacy. Through these partnerships, we are collaborating with purpose to address significant gaps in cancer screening, better understand the patient experience and ultimately help bring MCED technology to physicians and patients in a thoughtful way. Organizations like Prevent Cancer Foundation are on the front lines of cancer prevention—their spirit fuels our commitment to bring this groundbreaking innovation forward. Thrive is committed to being a dedicated, responsible partner in the effort to detect cancer earlier, because we know that we are stronger together.

Policymakers are also joining in the fight with passion and dedication. In his first major address to Congress last month, President Joe Biden said, “I know of nothing more bipartisan than curing cancer.” Members from both the House and the Senate have since affirmed a renewed commitment to addressing this disease that touches the lives of nearly every single American. This type of public support will be critical in advancing and promoting the emerging cancer technologies that we believe will change the future of cancer care.

For all these reasons, it feels like we are at a turning point in cancer research. At Thrive, we can see that we are at the precipice of changing cancer care for good. Our test will empower people to take control of their health, and with MCED technology, we can stop cancer in its tracks.

Now is the time to change the cancer paradigm. We have turned a corner. Policymakers are committed to ending cancer as we know it, and we now have MCED technology that could detect cancer earlier. Now is the time to stop cancer.


1. Cancer Facts & Figures 2021, American Cancer Society (ACS), Atlanta, Georgia, 2021.

2. R. L. Siegel, K. D. Miller, A. Jemal, Cancer statistics, 2020. CA Cancer J. Clin. 70, 7–30 (2020). doi: 10.3322/caac.21590; pmid: 31912902

3. N. Howlader et al., Eds., SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2014, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD (2017).

4. D. A. Ahlquist, Universal cancer screening: Revolutionary, rational, and realizable. NPJ Precis Oncol 2, 23 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41698-018-0066-x; pmid: 30393772

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