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What is oesophageal cancer?

Oesophageal cancer is one of Cancer Research UK’s cancers of unmet need. The 5 year survival rate for this cancer is currently only 15% [CRUK], and is influenced by the fact that many oesophageal cancers are detected at an advanced stage when current treatments are less likely to be successful. This is highlighted by the fact that 55% of people diagnosed with the earliest stage of (stage 1) oesophageal cancer survive for 5 years or more whereas there are no 5 year survival statistics for people diagnosed with the latest stage (stage 4) because unfortunately many people do not live for long after diagnosis [CRUK]

There are two main types of oesophageal cancer: oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC) and oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). OAC occurs most frequently near the junction between the stomach and the oesophagus, and is more prevalent in Northern and Western Europe, Northern America and Oceania populations [Gut 2015]. OSCC is located higher in the oesophagus and is more common in South-Eastern and Central Asian populations.

Why would I want to study oesophageal cancer?

As a cancer of unmet need, there is significant opportunity to improve the survival of patients with this cancer both by detecting these cancers earlier and by developing new therapeutic strategies. Oxford is recognised as a local centre of clinical excellence for the treatment of oesophageal cancer. The management and treatment of all patients in Oxfordshire is performed at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, and a specialist service is offered to those in the wider Thames Valley Cancer Network. Common research questions that sample access can help answer include:

  • What is the cell of origin of oesophageal cancer?
  • What are the earliest molecular events that trigger lethal disease development?
  • What role does the immune system play in the development and therapeutic sensitivity of an oesophageal cancer patient?
  • Which patients are likely to benefit from neoadjuvant chemo/radio-therapy?
  • Can I identify novel therapeutic targets for oesophageal cancer?

What samples are available?

Specimen collections available are collected from staging laparoscopy and resections, these can be matched with blood and clinical data. Cancer tissue in addition to control tissue from both the normal oesophagus and stomach are taken and can be supplied fresh or in the form of formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) blocks.

How do I gain access?

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