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Cancer Research UK starts trial for Cytosponge test

Cancer Research UK has started a large multi-centre trial for testing a new device called cytosponge, for detecting the oesophagal cancer, Barrett's oesophagus.

The test involves patients swallowing a small capsule with a string attached, that dissolves in the stomach and expands to form a 3cm sponge, which is then drawn back out removing a small sample of the cells lining the oesophagus.

The trial is expected to evaluate the efficacy and accuracy of the test in identifying patients with Barrett’s oesophagus, so that they can be offered treatment to reduce their risk of oesophageal cancer.

Chief investigator of the study Rebecca Fitzgerald said if the trial is successful it will provide a cheap, safe and highly effective method of identifying people with Barrett’s oesophagus, so they can take steps to reduce their risk of developing cancer.

The new test would cost £25, compared with £400 for a traditional endoscopy.

Earlier pilot studies, funded by the Medical Research Council, found that patients significantly preferred cytosponge compared to endoscopy.