Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED)

A rack test tubes with blood samples.New technologies under development can detect multiple components of a growing cancer, such as circulating tumor cells, tumor DNA, and other analytes, in blood or other body fluids. These tests look for circulating tumor cells, tumor DNA, and other substances that might be present in several different types of cancer. Some of these tests under development are trying to detect cancers at early stages. These kinds of tests are collectively known as Multi-Cancer Early Detection assays or M.C.E.D.s (MCEDs).

The idea of testing for multiple types of cancers simultaneously with a single MCED test is a new and exciting concept for cancer screening. However, there are many unanswered questions about using this very different kind of test, including:

  • what additional testing is necessary and after a positive test to confirm the presence of a cancer;
  • what types of cancers are detected by an MCED test and at what stages are these cancers;
  • which people will derive a net benefit from MCED screening; and
  • whether MCED tests can be successfully implemented in real-world practice.

This webpage is a gateway to DCP efforts surrounding study of MCED assays for cancer screening.

NCI Board of Scientific Advisors Presentation
June 15, 2022

On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, the Division of Cancer Prevention is presenting a request to fund an RFA entitled “Cancer Screening Network to Evaluate Multi-Cancer Early Detection Assays for Clinical Utility in Cancer Screening.”

Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Time: 2:45 p.m. ET

Meeting agenda (PDF, 211 KB)
View the slides (PDF, 2 MB)

Recording of presentation available at

Liquid Biopsy Consortium

Liquid Biopsy: Blood, Urine, Sputum.NCI sponsors this Academic/Industrial Partnership program designed to advance and validate Liquid Biopsy technologies specifically targeted for early stage cancer detection. Liquid biopsy uses body fluids such as blood, urine, saliva, stool, and sputum from patients suspected to have early stage cancer as well as those at high risk of developing cancer. The Precompetitive Collaboration on Liquid Biopsy for Early Cancer Assessment Consortium is also working on methods to distinguish cancer from benign disease; or aggressive from indolent cancers.

MCED Research Teams

The National Cancer Institute is actively working with researchers across the Institute and at other federal agencies to investigate all aspects of multi-cancer early detection tests. Learn more about how these teams are addressing different, but related aspects of the science:

Questions and Answers

Cancer Screening with Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) Tests

  • What Are Cancer Screening Tests?
  • What Kind of Tests are Used to Screen for Cancer?
  • Does a Positive Cancer Screening Test Mean I Have Cancer?
  • What Are Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) Tests?
  • And more...

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