As we begin a new year and look forward to everything that 2022 may bring we wanted to pause for a moment to think about the achievements we have made in the past year and the steps we have taken towards raising awareness of the early symptoms of oesophageal cancer, working towards solutions for more early diagnosis of both Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer and supporting those who live with both these conditions.

The Mobile Diagnostic Unit

2021 saw HCUK partner with research consortium DELTA in a significant pilot project which analyses the success of using an innovative new device, The Cytosponge, for identifying those at risk of oesophageal cancer in a primary care setting.  The project was facilitated through the purchase of a specialist mobile unit by HCUK and was opened to patients in June.  So far almost 300 at risk patients in the Cambridge area have undergone the procedure in the community. Feedback about the clinical experience is positive and the unit has moved this week to it’s second location in Essex where we anticipate it will be for 6 months.  This project is an essential part of transforming future care for those who present to their GP with persistent heartburn and has the potential to identify 10 times as many cases of Barrett’s oesophagus as current primary care guidelines and to free up endoscopy appointments for those who need urgent treatment.  We are thrilled to be a part of such a ground-breaking project and look forward to seeing the long-term implications for patient care. 

We don’t intend to stop here though – our desire is to make The Cytosponge available to as many of those at risk as possible by developing a long term mobile diagnostic service, particularly in those communities that have the most need, in order to increase early diagnosis and have a positive impact on individual patients lives. 


Projects such as the Mobile Diagnostic Unit would never be successful without the support of individuals and organisations who fundraise and donate to enable us to achieve our goals.  Many of these wonderful people who give their time and energy have a personal link to HCUK and we really can’t thank each and every one of you enough.  This year for the first time, we partnered with Run for Charity who have enabled us to bring our supporters a much broader range of sporting events to choose from when considering how to fundraise.  We have so enjoyed getting to know some of you as you have travelled through your training journey for various events and have loved seeing photographs of your successes and in some instances your bravery!

As well as our suggestions for events we have been thrilled that supporters have come up with individual ideas for fundraising, everything from sponsored walks, golf and very successful folk music evening.  We can’t wait to see what innovative and exciting ideas 2022 holds. 


Providing an evidence based, up to date source of information and support for those living with reflux, Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer is really important to our team.  We have focussed on growing and developing the support we are able to give during 2021 and are proud of the results and of the positive feedback we have received from our community.  At the end of 2020 we launched our online support group which we have watched grow into a supportive and friendly community for those with Barrett’s or oesophageal cancer.  As our reach has grown on social media many more members of the public have reached out to us with questions and concerns about their symptoms or those of loved ones and we are pleased to be viewed as a reliable source of information.  To this end, we are thrilled to have added two volunteers to our support team; a retired GP, Dr Oliver Stovin, who has a wealth of experience dealing with reflux, Barrett’s and cancer services and also has a Barrett’s diagnosis himself and NHS dietitian Sarah who has helped us develop our diet and lifestyle pages on the website.  The addition of these team members broadens the information we have available to support our community and hopefully improves the positive impact that we can have.  Dr Oliver's Blog has been especially popular since launching a couple of months ago.

Research Initiatives

As well as being a part of the pilot project mentioned previously, we have been approached to support a number of research projects throughout the year and have been happy to assist.  We have been able to help with projects looking at patient experience of cancer treatment and patients views on research priorities, amongst others.

In what has been another year with much uncertainty we feel we have made achievements to be proud of and, most importantly, that we can continue to build on in 2022 in order to change lives.  Thank you once again for your support, we wouldn’t be here without you.