Queen's University researcher awarded £855k to fight oesophageal cancer

  • Northern Irish cancer researcher Dr Helen Coleman has been given the prestigious Cancer Research UK Career Establishment Award and £855,000 to help fight oesophageal cancer. (Image credit: Cancer Research UK)

    Over 200 people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer each year, and the five-year survival rate is only around 20%. While high priority is often placed on more common cancers such as breast and lung cancer, oesophageal cancer is usually caught at a late stage when there are few effective treatment options.

    Oesophageal cancer has been found to be linked to a less serious condition called Barrett's oesophagus in which the lining of the oesophagus changes in response to acid reflux or other factors. Around 900 people per year in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with this condition and a small number of patients will go on to develop cancer.

    New endoscopic techniques can be used to identify pre-cancerous cells in people with Barrett's oesophagus and remove them before they become cancerous, and part of Coleman's research will be to investigate whether these techniques are making a difference. The research will also investigate lifestyle factors that could put people at risk of developing the cancer, such as smoking and drinking alcohol.

    Dr Coleman was pleased to have recieved the award and is looking forward to putting the research grant to good use: "It's fantastic to be selected for this career defining award and I am excited about working to find new ways to help prevent this cancer and new treatments to help patients survive for longer."

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