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Aspirin and acid reflux medication reduce the likelihood of patients with Barrett’s oesophagus developing oesophageal cancer.

Results of the AspECT clinical trial, coordinated by the CRUK Oxford Centre supported Oncology Clinical Trials Office, have shown the important role aspirin and acid reflux treatment can have in preventing those at high risk of oesophageal cancer from going on to develop the disease.

The trial led by Professor Janusz Jankowski had results presented last week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference. The trial investigated the chemo preventative effects of different doses of the antacid medication esomeprazole, with and without low dose aspirin in patients with Barrett’s oesophagus. Since acid reflux is involved in causing Barrett’s oesophagus it had been suggested that reduction of acid to very low levels might prevent progression to cancer.

The randomised phase III trial involved over 2500 patients who were followed for 7.9 years. Patients who followed a seven year course of high dose of esomeprazole with low dose aspirin, followed by high dose esomeprazole, were 20% less likely to develop oesophageal cancer than if they had been untreated.

Professor Janusz Jankowski, who completed an MSc in clinical trial research at Oxford University in 2009 and is currently Professor of Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire said: “Our results are very exciting. Oesophageal cancer is hard to diagnose and hard to treat. So, we’re pleased that such a cheap and well-established medicine can prevent and/or delay development of cancer for these patients. Our hope is that this may also offer an opportunity to prevent oesophageal cancer in wider populations.”

CRUK Oxford Centre to Host International Symposium on Oesophageal Cancer

The Cancer Research UK Oxford Centre, Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Cancer Centre and Chinese Hospital Chinese Academy of Medical Science (CICAMS) have come together to host an International Symposium on Oesophageal Cancer.

The symposium is being co-organised by Professor Xin Lu, Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald and Professor Qimin Zhan. Speakers that cover the breadth and depth of Oesophageal Cancer Research will be in Oxford on June 6-7th for this innovative event.

We are pleased to confirm that registration is now open and details can be found here.

Why oesophageal cancer?

Investigating oesophageal cancer presents unique opportunities for advances on two fronts: addressing the substantial unmet clinical needs of this disease; and uncovering molecular mechanisms with broad implications for our understanding of tumorigenesis.

The oesophagus provides an unusual yet accessible tumour context. In the lower oesophagus, the squamous epithelium of the oesophagus meets the columnar epithelium of the stomach and oesophageal adenocarcinoma is often preceded by epithelial cellular changes in an inflammatory condition called Barrett’s oesophagus. This setting thus presents a unique model for studies of the fundamental principles of interactions among different epithelial cell types, how signalling and differentiation are disrupted in cancer development and the influence of immune responses and inflammation on cell fate. On a global scale oesophageal squamous cell cancer is a major cause of cancer related death with some very high incidence areas thus providing further opportunities for investigating the epidemiology and causation of this disease and potential avenues for treatment.

Oesophageal cancer research is thus an ideal forum to bring together cell biologists, geneticists, immunologists and clinicians.