Early diagnosis a step closer for those at risk of oesophageal cancer

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An early diagnostic test of oesophageal cancer developed in Western Australia has correctly identified 89 per cent of patients with the disease in the latest results.

Proteomics International Laboratories’ blood test uses biomarkers to diagnose oesophageal adenocarcinoma and the pre-malignant condition, Barrett’s oesophagus, to detect the disease sooner and potentially improving health outcomes

The company said the latest results of the prototype test showed strong discrimination at the early and late stages of the disease, correctly identifying 89 per cent of patients with oesophageal cancer and 9 per cent of patients without the disease.

The findings were presented at Canada's annual ISDE World Congress for Esophageal Diseases. Proteomics International said it was the only company in the field invited to address the conference.

Proteomics International managing director Dr Richard Lipscombe said the technology has the potential to act as a screening test, providing earlier diagnosis without the need for an invasive and painful endoscopy.

“This has the ability to have a significant impact on people’s lives,” he said.

“We believe the key to early diagnosis is offering a tool that is simpler and financially more affordable for people to access in comparison to the current diagnostic options.

“The ultimate goal is that by detecting it earlier, treatment can begin sooner, and lives can be saved.”

Oesophageal cancer is the seventh most common cancer globally, attributed to 1 in 20 cancer deaths worldwide in 2018.

According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the five-year survival rate for oesophageal cancer in Australia is 23 per cent.

Dr Lipscombe says it highlights the importance of early diagnosis.

“By offering a simple blood test, the hope is to not only allow for much earlier detection of oesophageal cancer, but to also allow for ongoing monitoring of pre-cancerous tissue.

“If we can improve the way doctors are able to monitor those with Barrett’s oesophagus, or displaying other ‘at-risk’ factors, we hope to be able to change the overall management of the disease, and again, detect any changes at a much earlier stage.”