Developing a simple device for early cancer detection

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted routine NHS services and cancer diagnosis on an unprecedented scale. Routine endoscopy became a particular risk because of the aerosols it generated. Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust accelerated commissioning of a simple sponge-based device (Cytosponge®-TFF) which collects cells from the oesophagus and was developed by Cambridge researchers. The Scottish Government implemented its use across all ten of its mainland health boards. NHS England rolled out its use in a pilot study across NHS hospitals. Since August 2020, >12,000 clinical tests have been delivered across England and Scotland, monitoring patients to pick up early signs of cancer. This has resulted in new cases of Barrett’s and early cancer being detected, with around 75% reduction in endoscopies.

Added 14 November 2022; updated 27 April 2023.