A new diagnostic test may be around the corner thanks to the discovery of a gene mutation that marks the progression from a harmless esophageal condition to cancer, according to research published in Nature Genetics. Over time, frequent acid reflux—often called heartburn—damages the cells in the esophagus.

Scientists funded by Cancer Research UK’s Catalyst Club, and working as part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), have identified the faults that signal the early onset of esophageal cancer.

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