Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, one of the trustees at Heartburn Cancer UK, is leading the BEST3 Trial, aimed at making diagnosis of Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal cancer less invasive.

“Early diagnosis is essential to improve outcomes from cancer of the oesophagus. To do this we need to improve awareness of the importance of symptoms like heartburn and also provide easy access to tests. One approach that we have developed is a non-endoscopic test called Cytosponge which can be performed at the GP surgery"

The trial was launched in 2017.  Since this date around 120 GP practices have taken part with approximately 9000 patients being tracked for outcomes. The trial is assessing whether the test could offer a better way of detecting the early stages of oesophageal cancer in a shift towards prevention strategies. Surgeries across east Anglia, Hampshire, the North East, Nottingham and London have taken part.

YouTube Video

Preliminary results suggest that primary care patients are tolerating the test well, with more than half of patients rating their Cytosponge experience a 9 out of 10 (where 10 is totally acceptable).  These early findings, as well as providing a practical opportunity to test out large-scale nursing management and laboratory processes, are promising in terms of the potential deployability of the test into primary care. The introduction of the test, if the study is successful, could represent a major shift in the way in which the condition is detected and eventually treated in the health service. 

HCUK, and more broadly patient and public groups, have played a key role in development of the materials used in the trial through their ongoing work with Prof. Fitzgerald and her research teams. Results of the trial are expected later in 2020.