A new technique for checking the spread of cancer of the oesophagus may improve the outcome of the disease. Cancer of the oesophagus - the tube leading from the throat to the stomach - affects 5000 people a year in the UK, making it the eighth most common cancer. The main problem is spread of the cancer through the lymph glands. But it is hard for doctors to know which gland close to the oesophagus are affected by the cancer.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle, funded by the UK's Cancer Research Campaign, have used a dye and a radioactive tracer to track the progress of the cancer cells through the lymph glands. This will help select the glands that should be removed. The research involved 40 people with oesophagal cancer - and in 90% of cases, the new diagnostic technique did indicate where the cancer had spread.