Registry planned for those at high risk of oesophageal cancer

by Sinead Keane

Medicine Weekly 30.04.2008

A REGISTRY of individuals at risk of oesophageal cancer is currently being developed with the support of the family of a former Medicine Weekly columnist to promote prevention and earlier diagnosis of this potentially devastating cancer.

Medicine Weekly’s regular e-Doctor columnist Mr David Stewart sadly died of oesophageal cancer in October 2006.

A well-known and well-respected technology journalist, David first started writing his column for this publication in January 2002.

With articles appearing in the Sunday Business Post, ComputerScope, PC Live!, siliconrepublic.com, Digital Ireland, eThursday and Knowledge Ireland to name but a few publications and websites, David’s byline was a common sight when it came to reporting on technology matters, and perhaps even more common when the topic was Apple Macintosh computers.

His father Terry and his family in association with Prof John Reynolds, Professor of Surgery at St James’s Hospital and TCD, agreed to initiate a project that aims to support and monitor individuals at risk of oesophageal cancer. The project proposal is to develop a registry of patients with Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition that relates to long-term exposure of the oesophagus to acid reflux and is associated with a 40-fold increased risk or an approximate one in 200 annual risk of cancer. Speaking to Medicine Weekly, Prof Reynolds explained that the registry would work as a database containing detailed patient information, which would facilitate surveillance, education and research.

“The database will allow patients to be monitored in a structured co-ordinated way. It may also facilitate studies targeting prevention of oesophageal cancer, and it will hopefully allow more cancers to be identified at a curable stage” he explained.

“This is a very positive development. I am enormously grateful to Mr Stewart and his family for their generosity in fund- ing this initiative in David’s memory.”

A data manager has been appointed for one year through the fund and their first task will be to register the 300 to 400 Barrett’s patients who are looked after in the Centre for Oesophageal and Gastric Diseases at St James’s Hospital.

Prof Reynolds hopes this positive development will be the “first step in rolling out a national registry for Barrett’s oesophagus”.

The Republic of Ireland is one of the few countries in Western Europe without such a registry.