Test could diagnose oesophageal cancer 8 years earlier

November 6, 2017, Cancer Research UK
Test could diagnose oesophageal cancer 8 years earlier
Credit: Cancer Research UK

A new genetic test could help diagnose oesophageal cancer up to 8 years before symptoms appear in people at a high risk of the disease, according to new research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute's (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool.

University of Cambridge researchers Sarah Killcoyne and Eleanor Gregson looked at tissue samples from with Barrett's oesophagus – a common condition of the food pipe that can develop into cancer in around 5% of people.

They retrospectively identified predictive genetic markers in 94% of people who later developed early signs of and were able to spot these markers in samples that had been taken many years before symptoms appeared.

Samples used in the study had been taken during routine endoscopies for Barrett's oesophagus over a period of 15 years. To develop their the researchers compared the markers between 45 patients who went on to develop early signs of oesophageal cancer and 45 who did not.

There are no tests that accurately predict the small number of people who have Barrett's oesophagus who go on to develop cancer. Instead, almost all people with the pre-cancerous condition have endoscopies every few years.

But, this new test could mean people with genetic patterns can be closely monitored for early signs that cancer will develop, helping diagnose the earlier when treatment is more likely to be successful. This also means the majority of people who are at a low risk of developing oesophageal cancer could have far fewer endoscopies.

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, lead researcher based at the University of Cambridge MRC Cancer Unit, said: "Many people with oesophageal cancer are diagnosed when their disease has already spread and is harder to treat. Testing for these new markers during regular checks could help identify people who have a high chance of developing oesophageal cancer. The next step is to test this approach in clinical trials to see if our approach helps diagnose oesophageal cancer sooner when treatment is more likely to be successful."

Professor Matt Seymour, the NCRI's clinical research director, said: "Survival for of the gullet remains stubbornly low, and we face big challenges in diagnosing the disease earlier when it is more likely to be treated successfully. Studies like this not only mean we may be able to identify the disease earlier, but may also reveal more about the disease itself. It could be that, as well as helping predict who will develop the disease, these genetic markers could point the way to new treatments."

Explore further: Sponge on a string test could replace endoscopies

More information: Predicting oesophageal cancer progression using genomic information in pre-malignant oesophageal tissues. abstracts.ncri.org.uk/abstract … oesophageal-tissues/

Related Stories

Sponge on a string test could replace endoscopies

November 10, 2016
Cancer Research UK-funded scientists have discovered that a 'sponge on a string' pill test can identify which people with a condition called Barrett's oesophagus have a low risk of developing oesophageal cancer - sparing ...

Infrared light to detect early signs of esophageal cancer

September 6, 2016
Scientists have developed an endoscope that uses near-infrared light to spot early warning signs of oesophageal - food pipe - cancer, according to research published in the Journal of Biomedical Optics today.

Trial to test for Barrett's oesophagus launches in GP surgeries across the UK

March 28, 2017
A Cancer Research UK-funded trial allowing GP surgeries to test for Barrett's oesophagus – a condition that can increase the risk of developing oesophageal cancer – launches in the UK today.

Swallowing a sponge on a string could replace endoscopy as pre-cancer test

November 3, 2014
Swallowing a sponge on a string could replace traditional endoscopy as an equally effective but less invasive way of diagnosing a condition that can be a forerunner of oesophageal cancer.

New test follows the molecular footsteps that lead to oesophageal cancer

June 23, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A new diagnostic test may be around the corner thanks to the discovery of a gene mutation that marks the progression from a harmless oesophageal condition to cancer, according to research published in Nature ...

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

July 20, 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 ...

Recommended for you

Researchers use a molecular Trojan horse to deliver chemotherapeutic drug to cancer cells

February 23, 2018
A research team at the University of California, Riverside has discovered a way for chemotherapy drug paclitaxel to target migrating, or circulating, cancer cells, which are responsible for the development of tumor metastases.

Lab-grown 'mini tumours' could personalise cancer treatment

February 23, 2018
Testing cancer drugs on miniature replicas of a patient's tumour could help doctors tailor treatment, according to new research.

Study tracks evolutionary transition to destructive cancer

February 23, 2018
Evolution describes how all living forms cope with challenges in their environment, as they struggle to persevere against formidable odds. Mutation and selective pressure—cornerstones of Darwin's theory—are the means ...

An under-the-radar immune cell shows potential in fight against cancer

February 23, 2018
One of the rarest of immune cells, unknown to scientists a decade ago, might prove to be a potent weapon in stopping cancer from spreading in the body, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Putting black skin cancer to sleep—for good

February 22, 2018
An international research team has succeeded in stopping the growth of malignant melanoma by reactivating a protective mechanism that prevents tumor cells from dividing. The team used chemical agents to block the enzymes ...

Cancer risk associated with key epigenetic changes occurring through normal aging process

February 22, 2018
Some scientists have hypothesized that tumor-promoting changes in cells during cancer development—particularly an epigenetic change involving DNA methylation—arise from rogue cells escaping a natural cell deterioration ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.