Cytosponge Pill can detect Csophageal Cancer at an Early Stage: Cure for Cancer

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A research team from the University of Cambridge has found a way for early detection of esophageal cancer, which is also the eighth most common cancer type worldwide. Conspicuous symptoms of the cancer so far can be marked only in the advance stages.

The team of researchers has developed a pill with a string to detect symptoms of throat cancer at initial stage. The pill also eliminates the need for an expensive biopsy that was traditionally used.

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Collecting samples from half a million cells

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald explains that the outer layer of the Cytosponge pill gets dissolved in almost 5 minutes after being swallowed by the patient, exposing the compressed sponge that slowly expands, collecting cells from the throat lining when retrieved using the strings.

This method helps in collecting a sample of almost half a million cells from all along the throat lining unlike biopsy that collect only samples from a specific site.

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Early detection of Barrett’s esophagus

For an early detection, researchers studied a condition known as Barrett’s oesophagusthat is known to precede the cancer. During this condition, the cells lining the esophagus can be seen changing shapes and growing abnormally. This change in cells is caused by acid and bile reflux that come back up to the throat along with stomach juices.

Between one and five patients in every 100 suffering with Barrett’s oesophagus are known to develop oesophageal cancer later, which is difficult to cure if not detected at an early stage. With this method, early detection and treatment can be achieved for the cancer.

Biopsy can miss the right spot

The biopsy method is not very accurate in spotting pre-cancer condition as it need trained practitioner to detect abnormalities in the samples. Professor Fitzgerald explains that detecting the Barrett’ oesophagus is often difficult as it appear bland and may stretch over 10cm.

Within this stretch numerous cell varieties can be observed with some cells appearing to be normal and healthy while others indicating signs of mutations. So, if the biopsy missed the right spot, the disease can go undetected.

Understanding mutations

The team over the span of three years collected samples from 73 tumor patients, to understand mutations that confirm the presence of the disease.

They observed specific patterns of mutations in which one DNA letter had been replaced with another to indicate a cancer fingerprint. The team also found a tipping point where a number of mutations can be seen, but the patients were free from cancer, to a situation where huge genetic data were being transferred between chromosomes.

Still, there is a long way for the scientists to understand the process of pre-cancer to cancer as Barrett’s oesophagus and the oesophageal cancer share numerous mutations.

Nevertheless, Cytosponge method developed by Professor Fitzgerald’s team promises to give more accurate and early detection of deadly cancer, which has a survival rate of just 13%. The team is conducting more trails to establish its efficacy.

Please find the video (below) to hear what Professor Fitzgerald has to say about the new pill.

Source: [University of Cambridge], [DailyMail]

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