A trial using the Cytosponge test in GP surgeries for people with heartburn symptoms (BEST3)

The Cytosponge™ is a capsule on a string, which expands into a small sponge in the stomach. The Cytosponge™ test can find conditions of the oesophagus that are more common among people who have heartburn, reflux and/or indigestion.

The BEST3 trial was done to see if using a Cytosponge could help diagnose Barrett’s oesophagus in people who are on medication for long term heartburn. And to see if it could help detect early cancerous changes.

The BEST3 trial was open for people to join between 2017 and 2019. The research team identified more than 13,000 people from 109 different GP surgeries across England, to take part in this trial. 

The trial team found that the Cytosponge helped diagnose ten times as many cases of Barrett’s oesophagus compared to standard care. In some cases, a positive Cytosponge test also led to a diagnosis of earlier stage oesophageal cancer. The cancers diagnosed from the usual care arm were more advanced.  

The BEST3 results were published in the medical journal The Lancet in July 2020.  A summary of the trial results are available here.  

Funded by    

NIHR Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS) ID: 32540

ISRCTN Number: ISRCTN68382401

Image courtesy of Cancer Research UK

Image courtesy of Cancer Research UK