Mutations caused by oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC) have been mapped in unprecedented detail, unveiling that around half of all cases could be targeted by drugs already in clinical trials.

The research was published in Nature Genetics today and could help divide up oesophageal cancer patients allowing for a more personalised care plan. The end results could potentially mean that patients have more options beyond standard chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery.

In the study, researchers found that over 50% of patients with OAC were sensitive to CDK4/6 inhibitors which are already in trials for breast cancer. This essentially means phase II/III trials to treat oesophageal cancer could be coming in less than two years.

Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, Cancer Research UK funded scientist, said: “This research could completely shift the paradigm from giving oesophageal cancer patients the same chemotherapy that we know doesn’t always work, to more targeted treatments based on individual characteristics of a patient’s cancer.

“We are now designing clinical trials that provide real-time analysis of a patients’ genes to offer patients the best treatment based on their own genome.”

Statistics show that currently only around 12% of patients with OAC survey the condition – partly due to late diagnosis, as symptoms do not present until the cancer is advanced. Risk factors include obesity and smoking.