A new registry to improve early diagnosis of oesophageal cancer has identified over 300 people who have benefited from a new therapy that avoids the need for major surgery.

It is one of the initiatives enabled by the Oesophageal Cancer Fund, which runs its annual lollipop day across the country today.

Four-hundred and fifty new cases of this cancer are diagnosed each year, one of the highest rates in Europe and that's expected to double by 2040.

But over 300 patients diagnosed early are now well as a result of a new registry of people with Barrett's oesophagus, a common condition leading to this type of cancer.

It was started with funds raised by the annual lollipop day.

Before 2009 there was no central national register to input all clinical information for Barrett’s Oesophagus patients.

This meant there was no way of knowing how many patients there were, no insights into geographic or demographic incidence, no possibility of comparing patient progression rates in different parts of the country or identifying trends and patterns.

Now, through funding from the OCF, there is a national registry database with information and biopsy samples from five major hospitals that we can be used to better understand Barrett’s Oesophagus.

Since 2009 OCF have invested €700,000 in the registry, which allows the registration and surveillance of 3,000 Barrett’s Oesophagus patients.

According to the OCF, the Biobank has been hugely important for scientists involved in the Barrett’s program as consenting patients have provided thousands of blood and tissue samples that can be used for research studies, to make scientific investigations into factors that may be driving cells to change and transform from Barrett’s Oesophagus to oesophageal cancer.

Five hospitals - St James’s, Beaumont, St Vincent’s and The Mater in Dublin and The Mercy in Cork – are currently able to register patients on the database and it is hoped that this will be extended to include Galway and Limerick University Hospitals.