Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald

Spotting the early warning signs of oesophageal cancer

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, based at the MRC Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge, is head of a research group that studies oesophageal cancer. Despite progress in cancer research, the outlook for patients with this hard-to-treat cancer remains poor because it is often diagnosed late. Finding new ways to catch the disease earlier is therefore important to improve survival, and is the focus of this group’s research.

Professor Fitzgerald and her team have developed a new test, called Cytosponge, to help diagnose a condition called Barrett’s Oesophagus which can sometimes develop into oesophageal cancer. Through a clinical trial called BEST3, the researchers are now introducing Cytosponge to GP practices. This will help diagnose patients with Barrett’s who might benefit from regular check-ups to test for early warning signs of cancer.

Professor Fitzgerald is also looking at whether the test could be used to directly diagnose certain types of oesophageal cancer, helping to catch the disease when it is easier to treat and helping more people survive.

Read more about the cytosponge test here.


Oesophageal cancer
Early diagnosis

MRC Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge, Hutchison/MRC Research Centre