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‘Pill on a string’ could help spot early signs of cancer of the gullet


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‘Pill on a string’ could help spot early signs of cancer of the gullet 

 

Date: 27/07/2015

A ‘pill on a string’ developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge could help doctors detect oesophageal cancer – cancer of the gullet – at an early stage, helping them overcome the problem of wide variation between biopsies, suggests research published today in the journal Nature Genetics.


The ‘Cytosponge’ sits within a pill which, when swallowed, dissolves to reveal a sponge that scrapes off cells when withdrawn up the gullet. It allows doctors to collect cells from all along the gullet, whereas standard biopsies take individual point samples.

Oesophageal cancer is often preceded by Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition in which cells within the lining of the oesophagus begin to change shape and can grow abnormally. The cellular changes are cause by acid and bile reflux – when the stomach juices come back up the gullet. Between one and five people in every 100 with Barrett's oesophagus go on to develop oesophageal cancer in their life-time, a form of cancer that can be difficult to treat, particularly if not caught early enough.

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Source: University of Cambridge

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