The SWAG Cancer Alliance are part of the National Cytosponge pilot a new diagnostic test introduced by NHS England to identify conditions such as Barrett’s oesophagus – a condition that can increase a person’s risk of developing oesophageal (food pipe or gullet) cancer.

Cytosponge is a small capsule attached to a fine string that contains a small brush.  The patient swallows the capsule and once in the stomach the capsule coating dissolves releasing the brush.  The string is then pulled out allowing the brush to collect cells as it passes back up through the oesophagus.  The cells can then be analysed in pathology for abnormalities.

The test itself takes around 30 minutes and has been found in several studies to be safe, well-tolerated and effective.

The indication has recently been extended to include patients with known Barrett’s oesophagus.

The pilot is currently delivered at the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.