Multi-Cancer Early Detection Clinic

Centers for Early Detection and Interception


The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Clinic is part of Dana-Farber’s Centers for Early Detection and Interception, a new multidisciplinary clinical and research program for individuals who are at increased risk of developing cancer.

Talk with one of our experts to evaluate if the Centers for Early Detection and Interception is the right next step for you or your patient's care.

The Multi-Cancer Early Detection Clinic provides comprehensive diagnostic evaluations for individuals with a positive Multi-Cancer Early Detection (MCED) test. MCED tests screen for numerous types of cancers — including breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancers — from a single blood sample.

What is Multi-Cancer Early Detection?

Most cancers are diagnosed when a patient has symptoms, often when the cancer is already advanced. For silent cancers like pancreatic or lung cancer, late diagnoses can be fatal. MCED tests, like a GRAIL Galleri test, screen for earlier signs of cancer before symptoms occur and identify signals of cancer types that otherwise go undetected.

Early detection allows us to intervene sooner — and even prevent the cancer from happening.

What to Expect When You Visit the Multi-Cancer Early Detection Clinic

Understanding Your Results

We're here to help you better understand your test results and determine a plan for reducing your risk of progressing to cancer. We work with patients to conduct an initial diagnostic evaluation and develop personalized plans for monitoring and interventions as needed.

Before your first visit to the clinic, you will be asked to fill out a family history questionnaire. Our team of genetic counselors will review and determine if you are a candidate for genetic testing. Then you will have a consultation with a medical oncologist to go over your test results and coordinate a full diagnostic work-up. Further testing may include:

  • Imaging

  • PET/CT scan

  • Biopsy

If diagnostic tests show that cancer is present, you will be referred to one of our specialized treatment centers led by experts in your specific cancer type.

If cancer is not present, you will receive a custom follow-up plan, including ongoing screening and opportunities to participate in clinical trials.

Clinical Trial Opportunities

Our team is committed to advancing research of early detection and interception strategies. For patients today, this means access to clinical trials of new tests and therapies, as well as the opportunity to participate in biobanking studies.

Common Questions About the MCED Test

What is the MCED test?

The MCED test detects "cancer signals" for numerous types of cancer from a single blood test, also known as a liquid biopsy.

Intended to be complementary to regular, routine cancer screening methods, the MCED test provides the benefit of scanning for many cancer types at once. It does not detect all cancer types and should not be used as a standalone screening method.

How does the MCED test work?

Tumors shed cancer-specific DNA into the bloodstream. These cancer signals distinguish healthy cells from cancer cells and carry unique characteristics of specific cancer types. The MCED test looks for these cancer signals and patterns in the blood sample. When a cancer signal is present, the test identifies specific cancer types to direct a diagnostic work-up.

Who is eligible for the MCED test?

Recommended for:

  • The MCED test is recommended for use in adults with an elevated risk for cancer, such as those aged 50 or older.
  • The MCED test is intended to be used in addition to, and not replace, other cancer screening tests your healthcare provider recommends.

Not recommended for:

  • Use of the MCED test is not recommended in individuals who are pregnant, 21 years old or younger, or undergoing active cancer treatment.
  • Testing is not recommended until 3 years post-chemotherapy. 

What cancers does the MCED test detect?

There are several MCED tests in development. Some tests can detect over 50 cancer types. The test does not detect a signal for all cancers and not all cancers can be detected in the blood. This means false-positive (a cancer signal detected when cancer is not present) and false-negative (a cancer signal not detected when cancer is present) test results can occur.

Like single-cancer screening methods, such as a mammogram or colonoscopy, further diagnostic tests are required to evaluate if cancer is present. 

Where can I get an MCED test?

Many primary care physicians now offer MCED testing. Please consult with your primary care provider if you are interested in an MCED test. 

Dana-Farber patients who have had cancer previously, and are now in remission, can request an MCED test at our clinic.

Are MCED tests covered by insurance?

No, most health insurance plans do not cover MCED tests today. We hope this will be offered in the future to increase the availability and use of MCED tests as part of routine cancer screening guidelines.

Meet Our Team


Elizabeth O'Donnell, MD
Director, Multi-Cancer Early Detection Clinic
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Advanced Practice Providers

Marjorie Marto, PA

Genetic Counselors

Karina Franca, MS, CGC
Liz Kearns, MS, CGC