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What is Barrett’s Oesophagus?

Barrett’s oesophagus is a pre-cancerous condition associated with gastric reflux that increases the chance of developing oesophageal adenocarcinoma by 30-fold. Barrett’s oesophagus affects 1 in 50 people and is an example of metaplasia – the replacement of squamous epithelium (flat cells) with columnar epithelium (upright cells). Between 3-13% of people with Barrett’s oesophagus in the UK will develop oesophageal adenocarcinoma [CRUK].

Why would I want to study Barrett’s oesophagus?

One strategy for catching oesophageal cancers earlier is to regularly monitor patients with the pre-cancerous condition Barrett’s oesophagus, who are at higher risk of developing oesophageal cancer.  Surveillance of this population is performed using endoscopy, observing the lining of the oesophagus and when necessary, taking punch biopsies for further analysis (this is how the samples in this biobank are obtained). However, endoscopies are invasive and costly procedures, are very operator-dependent, and sampling for biopsy may miss regions of progression to cancer. Since only 3-13% patients with Barrett’s oesophagus go on to develop cancer, the majority of people are being monitored “unnecessarily”. If more could be understood about the molecular and cellular changes occurring in the minority that develop cancer in this population, strategies to detect oesophageal cancer earlier or even prevent cancer development can be devised. Additionally, better risk stratification to identify both those at very low cancer risk that could be moved onto reduced screening/surveillance, and those at higher risk who would need more intense surveillance would enable resources to be deployed more effectively.

What samples are available?

Barrett’s Oesophagus tissue in addition to control tissue form both the normal oesopghagus and stomach are taken and can be supplied fresh or in the form of formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) blocks. Due to the rarity of progression of oesophageal cancer we have few matched Barrett’s – Oesophageal samples from the same patient available for use.

How do I gain access?

Should you wish to gain access to these samples, bloods and data, please contact