A trial carried out by the Cancer Research UK has revealed that swallowing a sponge on a string could replace traditional endoscopy as pre-cancer test.


The institute presented the results of a trail at the National Cancer Research Institute’s annual conference in Liverpool.

Cancer Research UK health information head Dr Julie Sharp said: "These results are very encouraging and it will be good news if such a simple and cheap test can replace endoscopy for Barrett’s oesophagus."

The study involved around 600 patients with Barrett’s Oesophagus, a condition that can lead to oesophageal cancer. Researchers asked the patients to swallow the Cytosponge and to undergo an endoscopy.

According to the research institute, Cytosponge proved to be a very accurate way of diagnosing Barrett’s Oesophagus, representing 94% of patients swallowed the sponge reported no serious side effects.

University of Cambridge MRC cancer unit based professor Rebecca Fitzgerald and lead author said: "The Cytosponge test is safe, acceptable and has very good accuracy for diagnosing Barrett’s Oesophagus.

"It should be considered as an alternative to endoscopy for diagnosing the condition and could possibly be used as a screening test in primary care."

Image: UK researchers develop new Cytosponge test for oesophageal cancer. Photo: courtesy of Cancer Research UK.