As of 2012, esophageal cancer is the eighth-most common cancer globally with 456,000 new cases during the year. It caused about 400,000 deaths that year, up from 345,000 in 1990. It is around three times more common in men than in women. Outcomes are related to the extent of the disease and other medical conditions, but generally tend to be fairly poor, as diagnosis is often late. Five-year survival rates are around 13% to 18%.
A ‘pill on a string’ developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge could help doctors detect oesophageal cancer – cancer of the gullet – at an early stage, helping them overcome the problem of wide variation between biopsies.