It was the autumn of 2020 that we initially started to consider whether HCUK could fund a mobile medical unit to support an essential pilot study with the DELTA research project.  The study would use the Cytosponge (pill on a string) test to help identify Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer in patients invited by their GP to come for a test, which is impossible to plan in GP surgeries due to COVID-19.  

May, and the start of the project, have approached so quickly and we are struggling to contain our excitement that this incredibly meaningful project for Heartburn Cancer UK, and for those at increased risk of oesophageal cancer, is about to become a reality.  The project will bring the UK fundamentally closer to wider availability of the Cytosponge in primary care, to greater access to less costly and less invasive screening and to more early diagnosis of both Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer.

The planning has been done, funds have been raised by some of our amazing partners and supporters, the unit has been built and as you can see from the image below, is just having graphics and branding applied.  After the final finishing touches it will be on its way to Cambridgeshire on Friday, the first location in the pilot. 

Planning MDU with a coffee Branding of mobile diagnostic unit in action

A number of patients, selected by their GP, based on a specific criteria of being prescribed medication for reflux, will be invited to take the test.  There will also be the opportunity for a limited number of patients to enquire about self-referral if they regularly purchase off-the-shelf or over-the-counter remedies and haven’t yet seen their doctor for persistent heartburn or reflux symptoms. 

The unit will be in Cambridgeshire for four months before moving to it’s next destination.  Have a look at our project page for more information and the opportunity to donate towards this life-saving innovation which, with your support, we aim to see available UK wide in the not-too-distant future.  We can't wait to bring you more news on the unit in the weeks to come.