Barrett’s oesophagus is a condition that can lead to oesophageal cancer in a small number of people. It’s usually diagnosed in hospital by endoscopy (passing a camera down into the stomach) following a GP referral for longstanding heartburn symptoms. The Cytosponge test, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, is a small pill with a thread attached that the patient swallows, which expands into a small sponge when it reaches the stomach. This is quickly pulled back up the throat by a nurse, collecting cells from the oesophagus for analysis using a new laboratory marker called TFF3. It is found that this ‘sponge on a string’ pill test can identify ten times more people with Barrett’s oesophagus than the usual GP route, according to a new study.
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