New genetic test could diagnose oesophageal cancer 8 years earlier


University of Cambridge researchers developed a new genetic test could help diagnose oesophageal cancer up to eight years before symptoms in people appear in individuals at high risk of the disease. They conduct a research on Barrett’s oesophagus (a serious complication of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease refers to the reflux of acidic fluid from the stomach into the oesophagus that can develop into cancer in around 5 percent of people). This condition is named after a surgeon, Norman Barrett, who described the condition. This research was presented at the National Cancer Research Institute’s (NCRI) Cancer Conference (Liverpool, UK, 5–8 November 2017)

They prognostic genetic markers in 94% of those who developed early signs of oesophageal cancer later, and they identify these markers in samples taken many years before symptoms first showed. Samples used in the study during the routine endoscopies for Barrett’s oesophagus over a period of 15 years.

As there are no tests available to predict the small proportion of people with Barrett’s oesophagus. The majority of patients with the precancerous condition have to undergo endoscopic screening every few years.

This genetic test is actually mean that those with high-risk genetic patterns are closely monitored for early signs that cancer will develop and thus improve the chance of attaining the best possible treatment outcomes while reducing the number of endoscopies needed for those considered low-risk. This test will also help to diagnose the disease earlier, giving a greater chance of treatment success.

What is oesophageal cancer:

The oesophagus is part of the digestive system. The oesophagus is the tube that carries food from throat to stomach. Oesophageal cancer is a malignant tumour of the food pipe. The foodpipe is also called the gullet or oesophagus.

Main Types of oesophageal cancer:

Squamous cell cancer:

Cancers in the upper part and middle part of the oesophagus is called as squamous cell carcinomas. They tend to be developed from cells that make up the upper and inner lining of the oesophagus.


Cancer in the lower part of the oesophagus is called as Adenocarcinoma. Cancers that develop in the glandular tissue of the cells lining the oesophagus.

The most common symptoms of oesophageal cancer:

  • Dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing). During initial stage swallowing solids is difficult and feels that food is sticking in the throat or chest. But after swallowing liquids becomes difficult
  • Pain upon when swallowing.
  • Weight loss.
  • Symptoms of gastrointestinal bleeding (vomiting blood, black or bloody stools).
  • A chronic cough.

Risk factors for oesophageal cancer:

Age: The chance of developing oesophageal cancer increases with age in between 45 and 70.

Gender: Men are three to four times more likely than women to get oesophageal cancer.

Obesity: Person having too much body fat can develop oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

Lifestyle: Usage of tobacco and alcohol for a long period of time, raises the risk of oesophageal cancer, especially squamous cell carcinoma.

By knowing the risk factors for oesophageal cancer which help to take preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease.


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