Achalasia: Physician versus Surgeon
Two European experts give their opposing views on the best treatment option for achalasia
Oesophageal achalasia is a rare motility disorder, in which peristalsis is impaired or absent and the lower oesophageal sphincter fails to relax. Symptoms of achalasia include dysphagia, regurgitation of undigested food, coughing and choking, chest pain and chest infections.
We invited two European experts to give their opposing viewpoints—physician versus surgeon—on the best treatment option for achalasia.
A Physician's Viewpoint—Paul FockensAlthough the title of this blog quickly attracted your attention, it is actually not a choice between physician and surgeon but a choice between peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) and laparoscopic Heller myotomy (LHM). From a patient's point of view, the natural orifice approach will be preferred as it diminishes complications and reduces recovery time. But are both treatments equal in their efficacy and safety profile? There are many studies that suggest the efficacy of both POEM and LHM is excellent, but POEM has not been around very long so less evidence is available. Two large randomized controlled trials presented in abstract form and awaiting full publication both demonstrate the high efficacy of POEM, which seems equal to LHM and superior to a set of two pneumatic dilations. But how about safety? POEM is significantly less invasive, and thereby safer, than LHM; complications are very rare and usually mild. Therefore, with comparable efficacy and improved safety when compared with LHM, POEM seems to have a bright future. Is there any disadvantage to POEM? Yes, there is one issue and that is reflux. POEM can currently not be combined with an endoscopic antireflux procedure, so a significant percentage of patients will have to use proton pump inhibitors after POEM. It is up to the patient, after care has been taken to inform them about all available treatment options, to come to a shared decision with their doctor. Without a doubt in my mind, I believe POEM will frequently be the patient's favourite choice! References
- Ponds FA, et al. Peroral endoscopic myotomy (POEM) versus pneumatic dilatation in therapy-naive patients with achalasia: results of a randomized controlled trial [abstract 637]. Gastroenterology 2017; 152 (suppl 1): S139.
- Werner YB, et al. Endoscopic versus surgical myotomy in patients with primary idiopathic achalasia [abstract LB08]. United European Gastroenterology Journal 2018; 6: 1590.
A Surgeon's Viewpoint—Giovanni ZaninottoSurgical treatment of oesophageal achalasia divides the muscle fibresof the distal oesophagus and cardia, leaving the underlying mucosa intact. Consequently, resistance of the lower oesophageal sphincter to the flow of the bolus is diminished. Heller myotomy, named for the German surgeon who performed it first (in 1913), has been completed laparoscopically (LHM) since 1990, with a partial wrap of the fundus added to prevent iatrogenic gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD). LHM has gained vast popularity because of its efficacy in reducing dysphagia (89% and 85% of patients are asymptomatic at 5 and 10 years, respectively) while maintaining a very good safety profile (mortality <0.1%, morbidity <7%). Postoperative reflux is observed in 10–20% of patients when a partial fundoplication is added to LHM. Three randomized controltrials and three meta-analyses have compared the efficacy of LHM with that of pneumatic dilation, revealing that pneumatic dilation can achieve the same efficacy as LHM only after multiple, sequential dilations. Moreover, LHM is more effective than pneumatic dilation for treatment of type III spastic achalasia. There are no randomized control trials published in full that compare LHM with POEM, though two meta-analyses show that POEM achieves slightly (but significantly) better symptomatic control than LHM, especially for type III achalasia. However, the duration of the patient follow-up was shorter for POEM, and POEM presented a higher risk of postoperative reflux (20–40%). I believe five small abdominal scars are preferable to an increased risk of GORD, and that LHM remains the 'single-shot' better option for achalasia patients. References
- Boeckxstaens G, Zaninotto G and Richter JE. Achalasia. Lancet 2013; 383: 83–93.
- Zaninotto G, et al. The 2018 ISDE achalasia guidelines. Dis Esoph 2018; 9: 1–31.
Dealing with nutrition, diet, microbiota and IBS
Nutrition expert Heidi Staudacher speaks about advances in IBS research.
Heidi Staudacher is a research dietician at the University of Queensland in Australia.With Rune Stensvold from the UEG E-learning Team, she speaks about advances in IBS research and how it can be used to help IBS patients. Have also a look at Heidi Staudacher's presentation "The low FODMAP diet: Selecting the right candidate" at UEG Week Vienna 2018
UEG Image Hub
A new source of GI images online, freely available to download.
As an editor I’m clearly a big fan of words, but I’m also a big fan of images and the way they can add value and visual interest. As part of our work, the UEG E-learning Team is always thinking about how best to illustrate our content, be it on online courses (and their summary infographics), “Mistakes in…” articles or our latest news blogs. Although we necessarily do use third-party figures or photos, as often as possible we work with our art editor and authors to develop original images, such as the few shared here in this blog.
Apply for a UEG Activity Grant to produce an online course
Developing an online course is not as complicated as you may think.
Tough but doable
8 Tips for passing the European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Anthea Pisani is a gastroenterology trainee in Mater Dei Hospital in Malta. She passed the European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology in April 2018 and gave a talk about “Tough but doable: A personal view on the exam” in the Young GI Lounge at the subsequent UEG Week in Vienna. Her presentation was very much appreciated, so we asked Anthea to share her top tips for passing the exam in the GI Hive.
So, you have decided to sit for the European Specialty Examination in Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Perhaps this was a voluntary decision on your behalf in order to broaden your horizons, or it may be a mandatory aspect of your training. It may be your first attempt or maybe a re-attempt and you might be at the beginning of your training or at the end of it. Either way, good luck with your preparations. Here are some points to help guide you towards becoming a European board certified Gastroenterologist.
From bench to the UEG floor
A personal experience from an young gastroenterologist from Egypt and how UEG helped him to achieve his goals.
Mohammed Khorshid, a young gastroenterologist, tells us his personal success story of being invited to give an oral presentation at UEG Week.
UEG Classroom Courses
These educational events are perfect opportunities to increase your GI knowledge.
Radislav Nakov, member of the YTG and the Education Committee explains what’s happening at UEG’s classroom courses and who should attend them.These educational events are perfect opportunities to increase your GI knowledge but also to expand your professional network. Find out more about the courses and how to apply.
Work-life balance: 10 tips from the UEG Week 2018 experience
A list of Dos and Dont's that came out of the Career Chat.
Carolina Ciacci is a full Professor of Gastroenterology at University of Salerno (Italy), a member of the UEG Equality & Diversity Taskforce and a mother of two adult children. At UEG Week 2018, she participated in the session “Career Chat: Women as educators” and in the Facebook live chat “How to improve work-life balance for doctors?”. Based on these discussions and her own personal experience she shares her ten tips for work life balance in this edition of the GI Hive.
Here is a list of Do's and Dont's that came out of the Career Chat:
- Make a careful analysis of your potential and find out how to empower yourself, both at work and within the family.
- Set up your priorities, short and long-term goals. Get the skills you need to succeed. Look around, find a spot for you in your working setting, fill up the empty space with expertise and knowledge. Live up to your potential!
- Choose your family partner carefully. This will help to share your family duties with him/her. Make a written list of each of your tasks. Try to set a routine for chores but know that you both need to be flexible.
- Ask for help! Outsourcing is not a shame. It is hard to be on the same day on call, a mother, and a good housekeeper. Hire all the help you can afford, even if you have to pay a fee.
- Make a careful plan of your expenses, since outsourcing is expensive. In some periods of your life, it is more important to spend less on entertaining and more on babysitting or housekeeping.
- Be efficient! Consider reducing commuting by living close to the workplace, or the kindergarten/ school. Find a gym next to your working place and go whenever you can. Check on your smartphone the time you spend on social media. You will be surprised how much time you waste scrolling the screen of your phone (yet it is sane to do that for some time!)
- Keep healthy! Eat well, train your body, and get a good night´s sleep. Don’t forget to look after your mind. Have a little quiet time alone. Enjoy small moments of harmony. It is vital to be fit for the daily challenges of your life.
- Learn to say “no”! Saying “no” is difficult; however, you need to protect yourself from unnecessary and unfair demands that will add nothing to your personal growth and career. Be firm and protect your space.
- Failure is not an option (Gene Kranz, Apollo 13). Accept the possibility that sometimes in your life your career might slow down temporarily because of family engagements. Use your time at home cleverly; you might find a way to write a review or improve your knowledge in a particular field.
- Do not mix up family and work. When you are at work, focus on what you are doing. Do not make unnecessary phone calls or waste time discussing your family life with your colleagues. Remember also that your colleagues may have supported you when you were on parental leave, so be helpful and available for them, too. On the other hand, if you are at home with your family limit checking your emails, or answering phone calls as much as possible. Multitasking will not work if you are striving for excellence in both fields.
- World Economic Forum. The Global Gender Gap Report 2017
UEG Research Fellowship
UEG YTG Member Gianluca Ianiro talks about this revolutional UEG grant for researchers.
We spoke with Gianluca Ianiro, a gastroenterologist at Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli in Rome, and a member of the UEG Young Talent Group (YTG) and UEG Research Committee
National young GI sections and the ECYG
Ivana Mikolasevic talks about the European Conference of Young Gastroenterologists
The GI Hive is a brand-new blog from the UEG Young Talent Group (YTG) that covers the most up-to-date information about life, career development, education and opportunities for young gastroenterologist in Europe. Interviews, infographics, WhatsApp conversations and videos with both junior and renowned gastroenterologists will all be published in the GI Hive on a regular basis.Our latest guest in the GI Hive is Ivana Mikolasevic, a member of the UEG YTG and an associate professor in Rijeka, Croatia. In December 2018, Ivana and a group of young gastroenterologists from the Croatian Young GI section (Tomislav Bokun, Maja Mijić, Sanja Stojsavljević, Nadija Skenderević, Ana Ostojić, Viktor Domislović, Ivan Jakopčić, Petra Puž) are holding the first European Conference of Young Gastroenterologists in Zagreb, Croatia. Ivana is president of the organizing committee and shared a few words with us about the conference and the Croatian Young GI Section.
There are still countries in Europe without a young GI section and the YTG has published a paper on how to start one. Could you tell us how everything started in your country and about the organisation of the Croatian Young GI section and its activities?We revived the inactive youth section of our national society of gastroenterology in 2013. We first started having meetings during national society meetings/congresses, following the organisation of dedicated sessions for young gastroenterologists when they presented their best scientific work. Then we took over the administration of our society's webpage and gradually the idea of having our own meeting grew. At the beginning of 2017 we organised the first three-day symposium dedicated to members of the youth section: it was a great success and was repeated early this year. To be honest, as we are a rather small community, we were sceptical about having our own meeting, but it eventually appeared to become almost like a necessity and the occasion all young members eagerly awaited—to meet each other and be able to discuss common interests and problems. Our senior colleagues have been extremely supportive of all our activities, so we would suggest that young gastroenterologists start activities for themselves in their own countries without fear, and that they ask for support of any kind from senior colleagues.
How did you decide to organise the first European Conference of Young Gastroenterologists (ECYG)?So, I talked in front of our small ECYG team—Tomislav Bokun, Maja Mijić, Sanja Stojsavljević, Nadija Skenderević, Ana Ostojić, Viktor Domislović, Ivan Jakopčić, Petra Puž and me. The idea for the conference organisation was born within the Youth Section of the Croatian Society of Gastroenterology, with a desire to stimulate and strengthen international cooperation. We already have annual meetings of the youth section when we discuss how to improve our education; we hold lectures about specific topics in digestive health and so on. We wanted to do the same thing with this conference but on a European level, because we have all had such good experiences making contact with colleagues from other countries who we met on courses and congresses we have attended during our education. Therefore, we wanted to create something that would be focused on young gastroenterologists and their networking, under the supervision of senior experts established in specific fields of gastroenterology. The idea of gathering together as many young GIs as possible so that we can make new contacts and share experiences made us enthusiastic, although, at first, none of us were probably aware of exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Then, once we put down all the assignments on paper, we rolled up our sleeves and started working.
What can young GIs learn by attending the ECYC?This is the first conference targeting young gastroenterologist from all over Europe with the purpose of exchanging experience, knowledge and ideas with eminent professors and researchers. The main idea of the conference is for us, young gastroenterologists, to have a chance to present our most challenging clinical cases and discuss them with our peers and acknowledged experts in the field. Furthermore, ECYG gives us the opportunity to present our clinical and scientific work in a poster presentation form. Not only that, during hands-on sessions young delegates will be able to improve their manual skills in abdominal ultrasound, Colour Doppler, elastography and endoscopy. Moreover, this conference will enable us to initiate constructive and productive dialogues and to create a network for future collaboration with colleagues all over Europe. Finally, to enable us to achieve this goal, interaction will be encouraged and stimulated throughout the conference.
What are the most important messages from the conference?Learn. Connect. Grow. It doesn’t matter if you come from a big or small country, region or hospital—if you try to give the best of yourself, as we, people from a small country, are trying to do by organising this conference, you can succeed in anything. Finally, our wish is that this project stimulates the awareness of young people about the need for teamwork, co-operation and education, both within their own centre and among other centres. Our small team wants to stress the importance of teamwork and collaboration needed in everyday practice to succeed. Another important point is the apparent need for organising events and programs dedicated to young GIs. This conference is another 'proof of concept' for gathering young GIs in youth GI sections and organising events for them. We believe that every nation should have their own young GI section and all their own meetings, and we also call for close collaboration in organising hopefully future ECYGs. We invite you to view the YTG section of the UEG webpage for more information on activities for young GIs within UEG and to get into contact with the YTG and also Friends of YTG countries around Europe. We also invite you to share your experience about organizing events for young GIs as this could help us to improve the quality of ECYG. Fresh ideas are also warmly welcomed! To improve our knowledge, we have to work together and exchange our ideas, so we can approach complex medical problems from every angle. The future of the field lies with young gastroenterologists, but the knowledge lies with those who are less young. We want to transfer knowledge into the future.
What are your insights for the future of the conference?Well, we want to do it all over again! Call us crazy, but so far this has been such a great experience and we are sure it will continue this way until and during the conference. We hope that we will get good feedback and reviews, so we can show that a small country like Croatia can do something big as this when people work together.
Interviewer: Radislav Nakov
GI Hive, a brand new blog by the UEG Young Talent Group
Yasmijn van Herwaarden reveals more about the activities of young GIs within UEG.
GI Hive is a brand new blog edited by UEG Young Talent Group that combines the most up-to-date information about life, career development, education and opportunities for young GI specialists in Europe. Interviews, infographics, WhatsApp conversations and videos with both junior and renowned specialists will be regularly published in GI Hive.The first bee in the GI Hive is Yasmijn van Herwaarden – UEG Young Talent Group (YTG) chair. Yasmijn is a resident at the Rijnstate hospital in Arnhem, the Netherlands and tries to finish her PhD thesis at the Radboud university hospital in Nijmegen. She is a 30-year old Sagittarius and loves painting, pilates and plants.
Yasmijn, could you explain what is exactly Young Talent Group? What are the activities of the young GIs within UEG?
Among the most popular opportunities provided by YTG are the clinical and research fellowship programmes. Could you share with us a little bit more about them?These fellowships were started to give young clinicians and researchers an opportunity to visit another European centre. We award € 1250 to spend at least two weeks in one of the participating centers.
The YTG published a paper on the needs of young GI sections in UEG Journal. Can you explain what are the needs of young sections belonging to UEG National Societies?We circulated a questionnaire among our Friends of the Young Talent Group to make an overview of the situation of young GI’s in each country. We learned that in many countries the young GI’s/residents are not organized and represented at a national level. We believe that it is important for young professionals to be represented and actually have a say in decisions that are made about their daily work and their future workplace.
Why it is important for a young GI to send an abstract to UEG Week?For me submitting an abstract as a young researcher was always important because it was the opportunity to visit a conference and travel. I was fortunate that if the abstract was accepted for poster or oral presentation my department would pay for the travel costs and the conference fee.
How can a young GI get involved with Young Talent Group and what is Young GI Network?An easy way to stay in touch and hear about all our offers is to like the Young GI Network Facebook page. You can also subscribe to our mailing list and visit the UEG website to hear about the open calls we post. All the calls for the fellowships, other awards and grants and open calls for new positions in the YTG will be posted there.
Personalised nutrition - food for thought
Developing tailored eating advice based on individual nutritional needs
‘Personalised nutrition’ represents any attempt to provide tailor-made healthy eating advice based on the nutritional needs of an individual, as dictated by their behaviour, phenotype and/or genotype and their interactions. Increasing evidence has shown the potential for integrating lifestyle habits, physiology, nutraceuticals, the gut microbiome and genetics into nutritional solutions, specific to the needs of each individual, for maintaining health and preventing disease.
- 200 µg folic acid
- 40 mg vitamin C
- No more than 6 g salt
- At least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables
- No more than 11% of energy from saturated fat
- Fenech M, El-Sohemy A, Cahill L, et al. Nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics: Viewpoints on the current status and applications in nutrition research and practice. J Nutrigenet Nutrigenom 2011; 4: 69–89.
- Food Standards Agency. Nutrient and food based guidelines for UK institutions. https://www.ptdirect.com/training-design/nutrition/national-nutrition-guidelines-united-kingdom. (2007, revised October 2007, accessed 11 May 2018).
- Blumeberg JF, Bailey RL, Sesso HD, et al. The evolving role of multivitamin/multimineral supplement use among adults in the age of personalized nutrition. Nutrients 2018; 10: 248.
- Kohlmeier M, De Caterina R, Ferguson LR, et al. Guide and position of the International Society of Nutrigenetics/Nutrigenomics on personalized nutrition: Part 2 – Ethics, challenges and endeavors of Precision Nutrition. J Nutrigenet Nutrigenom 2016; 9: 28–46.
- Liew SC and Gupta ED. Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) C677T polymorphism: Epidemiology, metabolism and the associated diseases. Eur J Med Genet 2015; 58: 1–10.
- Görman U, Mathers JC, Grimaldi KA, et al. Do we know enough? A scientific and ethical analysis of the basis for genetic-based personalized nutrition. Genes Nutr 2013; 8: 373–381.
- Davis CD and Milner JA. Nutrigenomics, vitamin D and cancer prevention. J Nutrigenet Nutrigenom 2011; 4: 1–11.
Alcohol Awareness Month
April is the perfect time to discuss UEG’s actions on alcoholic liver disease.
Last October, on the occasion of UEG Week 2017, we had a chance to sit and talk with Professor Helena Cortez-Pinto, a member of UEG’s Public Affairs Committee and author of the UEG Education article “Mistakes in alcoholic liver disease and how to avoid them.” Now, in the middle of Alcohol Awareness Month, we highlight the main points of our discussion and make the video of the interview available.During our interview, Helena conveyed the importance of several aspects related to state-of-the-art treatment for patients with alcoholic liver disease (ALD), such as the necessary involvement of multidisciplinary teams to deal with both the physical and psychological sides of the disease. She also touched on the specificities of performing a liver biopsy in ALD patients, as well as some of the alcohol-related issues the UEG Public Affairs Committee is trying to get onto the EU health agenda.
The current, evident disparity between ALD research and its burden, when compared with other liver diseases, was a key point mentioned by Helena during the interview. Supporting this point is evidence from Ramon Bataller and co-authors, who developed an Attention-to-Burden Index (ABI), comparing research activities during 2010–2014 with an estimate of disease burden for the four major liver diseases, namely hepatitis B and C, ALD and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.1 Surprisingly (or not), they found that the mean research attention for ALD was only 5%, when its overall burden was 50%, highlighting the critical need to increase awareness of ALD in the liver research community. This need was also pointed out by Helena during her interview and is something she is working to convey to Members of the European Parliament, Representatives of the European Commission and Council, as well as other EU stakeholders, as part of her work on UEG’s Public Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Markus Peck-Radosavljevic.
In a related matter, earlier this year the “Alcohol and Digestive Cancers: Time for Change” report was published by UEG EU Affairs, highlighting the alarming scale of alcohol consumption across Europe and its direct and indirect impact on digestive cancers.
More information on the work of the UEG Public Affairs Committee can be found online, along with a copy of the “Mistakes in alcoholic liver disease and how to avoid them” article from Helena and co-author Pedro Marques da Costa and other articles in the “Mistakes in…” series.
We hope you enjoy the interview! Please be sure to let us know what you think, if there are any other issues we should be considering and if there’s anyone else you would like to see us interview in future. References
- Ndugga N, et al. Disparities between research attention and burden in liver diseases: implications on uneven advances in pharmacological therapies in Europe and the USA. BMJ Open 2017; 7: e013620.
- Singal AK, et al. ACG Clinical Guideline: Alcoholic Liver Disease. Am J Gastroenterol 2018; 113: 175–194.
- Marcellin P and Kutala BK. Liver diseases: A major, neglected global public health problem requiring urgent actions and large-scale screening. Liver Int 2018; 38 (Suppl 1): 2–6.
- Spence AD, et al. Communication of alcohol and smoking lifestyle advice to the gastroenterological patient. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol 2017; 31: 597–604.
- Campbell EJ, Lawrence AJ and Perry CJ. New steps for treating alcohol use disorder. Psychopharmacology Epub ahead of print 25 March 2018. DOI: 10.1007/s00213-018-4887-7.
Thank you from UEG E-learning!
We wouldn’t be able to provide high-quality, valued content if not for our contributors.
This month has seen UEG E-learning reach a wonderful landmark, with 3,000 learners actively taking a UEG online course. Added to this are the thousands of pageviews attracted by our Mistakes in… series—more than 38,000 so far this year alone! Given UEG’s aim to enhance the education of young professionals in the field, we’re delighted that our content is being so well used.Of course, we wouldn’t be in the position to provide such high-quality, valued content were it not for our contributors. Now, therefore, seems an appropriate time to say a big thank you to all our authors for their time, expertise and enthusiasm. Here, you’ll find a few UEG E-learning facts, figures and thoughts that demonstrate just how far the project has come in the past few years (since January 2014). At the end of this blog, you’ll find a list of the UEG E-learning content that’s currently available and the names of all our fantastic contributors. If you haven’t had a chance to look at our content then I recommend looking at the list and visiting the UEG Education website. Thank you, once more, to all our contributors—we truly appreciate your generosity and investment in UEG E-learning and look forward to working with you again in the future! Download the infographic
Alcohol, GI cancer and microbiota
To what extent might alcohol consumption drive or modify the relationship between gut microbiota and GI cancer?
In the ‘European Code Against Cancer', the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) identify 12 ways to reduce the risk of developing cancer, one of which has to do with alcohol consumption.1 Indeed, the Code advises “If you drink alcohol of any type, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention.” This recommendation is perhaps not surprising given that alcohol has been identified as a cause of at least seven types of cancer, most of which are gastrointestinal (i.e. cancer of the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus, liver, colon and rectum).1Working with clinical microbiology and microbiome analysis on a daily basis, I’m interested in the use of gut microbiota profiling for predicting human health and disease, including relationships between microbes and cancer. Dysbiosis and predominance of particular gut microbiota communities are thought to be involved in the development of, for example, colorectal cancer (CRC).2–4 But to what extent might alcohol consumption drive or modify such relationships? There may be several answers to this question, and, as exemplified by a recent study, they may not be black and white…5 In their study, Tsuruya et al. investigated the ecophysiological consequences of alcoholism on human gut microbiota.5 Detailing and corroborating the findings of others,6 they found that the gut microbiota of alcoholics were depleted in dominant obligate anaerobes (e.g. Ruminococcus) and enriched in aerotolerant (facultative anaerobic) groups, including Streptococcus and other minor species. That the distribution is skewed towards facultative anaerobes in alcoholics reflects—at least in part—the influence of oxidative stress due to ethanol-induced formation of reactive oxygen species by, for example, gut mucosal cells. The team go on to explain how the different major groups of bacteria metabolize ethanol under different ecological circumstances, which includes the production of acetaldehyde (the carcinogenic metabolite derived from alcohol that is thought to be critical to the development of ethanol-related CRC). While I strongly encourage you to acknowledge the complexity of these intricate relationships, what I find particularly intriguing is the extent to which it is possible to predict gut ecology (e.g. the level of oxidative stress) by microbiota profiling, since this could impact the way we manage and prevent cancers such as CRC. Strong epidemiological data suggest there is a dose–response relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of CRC.7–10 And when it comes to alcohol (ab)use and the risk of developing and dying from CRC, it might be useful to look not only at the gut bacteria that are present and what they do, but also at those bacteria that are absent. For instance, the diet of individuals who consume excessive amounts of alcohol might favour gut microbiota changes that increase susceptibility to cancer development. Some bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are most likely protective against the development of CRC.4,11 Such bacteria are established in the gut typically in relation to a diet rich in fibre. If the overall diet of alcoholics promotes (e.g. via malnutrition) a reduction in bacteria producing SCFAs, this could indirectly lead to an increased CRC risk. The possible opportunities here are manifold, but I will end by mentioning what I consider the two most important ones. First, microbiota profiling can be used as a noninvasive diagnostic/prognostic marker for various aspects of health and disease; stool analysis might in the future enable us to tell if a patient is an alcoholic, what type of food they eat (if you include profiling of eukaryotic cells in stool as well), and what the likelihood of, for example, CRC is in this patient. Second, microbiota manipulation—through diet, antibiotics, or gut microbiota transplantation—may be used with a view to reducing morbidity and mortality from cancer, not only CRC, but possibly also other types of cancer. References
- International Agency for Research on Cancer. European Code Against Cancer (https://cancer-code-europe.iarc.fr/index.php/en/) [accessed March 21, 2017].
- Gagnière J, Raisch J, Veziant J, et al. Gut microbiota imbalance and colorectal cancer. World J Gastroenterol 2016; 22: 501–518.
- Dulal S and Keku TO. Gut microbiome and colorectal adenomas. Cancer J 2014; 20: 225–231.
- Vipperla K and O’Keefe SJ. Diet, microbiota, and dysbiosis: a ‘recipe’ for colorectal cancer. Food Funct 2016; 7: 1731–1740.
- Tsuruya A, Kuwahara A, Saito Y, et al. Ecophysiological consequences of alcoholism on human gut microbiota: implications for ethanol-related pathogenesis of colon cancer. Sci Rep 2016; 6: 27923.
- Mutlu EA, Gillevet PM, Rangwala H, et al. Colonic microbiome is altered in alcoholism. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2012; 302: G966–978.
- Bailie L, Loughrey MB and Coleman HG. Lifestyle risk factors for serrated colorectal polyps: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gastroenterology 2017; 152: 92–104.
- Wang YM, Zhou QY, Zhu JZ, et al. Systematic review with meta-analyses: alcohol consumption and risk of colorectal serrated polyp. Dig Dis Sci 2015; 60: 1889–1902.
- Bagnardi V, Rota M, Botteri E, et al. Alcohol consumption and site-specific cancer risk: a comprehensive dose-response meta-analysis. Br J Cancer 2015; 112: 580–593.
- Cai S, Li Y, Ding Y, et al. Alcohol drinking and the risk of colorectal cancer death: a meta-analysis. Eur J Cancer Prev 2014; 23: 532-539.
- Bultman SJ. Interplay between diet, gut microbiota, epigenetic events, and colorectal cancer. Mol Nutr Food Res 2017; 61.
Jointly organised by ESDO and ESGE
Early-bird registration for this UEG supported event is open until March 30, 2017.
Advice on Christmas Dinners...
A factual but fun article for the festive period from Mark Fox based on a Q&A session for his local newspaper
Advice on Christmas Dinners and its after effects“A factual but fun article for the festive period from Mark Fox based on a Q&A session for his local newspaper. Merry Christmas!”
How have nurse endoscopists benefitted endoscopy services?
I remember the incredulity on the faces on my European colleagues 20 years ago when I told them that the UK was to start training nurse endoscopists. They doubted that it was desirable (or even possible!) to train nurses. Of course, by then the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) had for many years endorsed flexible sigmoidoscopy by ‘nonspecialists,’1,2 but little evidence of their effectiveness had been published.3Unsurprisingly, it was the relentlessly increasing demand for endoscopy that made the introduction of nurse endoscopists necessary in the UK. Some 20 years ago, the demand for gastroscopy approached 10 per 1,000 population per year and the demand for colonoscopy was expected to increase from an average of 2.5 to 10 colonoscopies per 1,000 population per year.4 In addition, the implementation of the NHS National Bowel Cancer Screening programme would further inflate the demand for endoscopy. For this reason, a British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) Working Party5 gave the green light for nurse endoscopy, together with the United Kingdom Central Council (UKCC)6 and the General Medical Council (GMC). However, it was a cautious start because endoscopy was seen as a risky procedure that was associated with a 1:2,000 risk of death.7 The BSG, GMC and UKCC all agreed that nurse endoscopists were only to act as “technicians”. The responsibility for the patient’s management remained with “the supervising doctor” who had to be “immediately available within the hospital” (an oxymoron of course) in the event of complications or to give advice. Now we know that they were wrong and that the “interpretation of findings does not rely on the experience and training of an appropriately qualified doctor.”5 Endoscopy can be taught! Indeed, throughout the UK, nurse endoscopists now work independently, interpreting findings without the immediate supervision of a clinician. The uptake of nurse endoscopy has been steady in the past 20 years. In Leeds we have seven nurse endoscopists who undertake about 22% of our gastroscopies, 27% of our colonoscopies and all of our flexible sigmoidoscopies. ERCP, enteroscopy, EUS and most therapeutic endoscopy procedures that pose a significant risk of complications are carried out by consultants who are increasingly dedicating their time purely to endoscopy. Now we know more about the performance of nurse endoscopists. There is irrefutable evidence that the caecal intubation rate, adenoma detection rate, complication rate and patient satisfaction scores are comparable among nurses and doctors.8–10 In Leeds, the ‘raw’ caecal intubation rate for both our nurse endoscopists and consultants is 92% and the average polyp detection index (total number of polyps found/total number of patients) is also virtually identical (34.5 for nurses and 33.5 for consultants). In view of the reassuring published literature that has become available over the years, I was bemused to read a recent survey from New Zealand in which only 30% of doctors welcomed the introduction of nurse endoscopists.11 A huge majority believed that doctors would always deliver a better quality of endoscopy and that overall costs would spiral out of control if nurses were to be trained in endoscopy. Of course, endoscopy is a valued source of extra income for gastroenterologists in New Zealand, which makes me wonder if this may have had an influence on the outcome of the survey. Nevertheless, the statistics, reassuring as the may be, do not do nurse endoscopists justice. As a lead endoscopist, it is a relief to have a stable workforce that is fully committed to endoscopy. Most of my gastroenterology colleagues rush between ward rounds and outpatient clinics, phoning patients and their relatives in between. They have little time and energy to invest in endoscopy. By contrast, if an endoscopy list needs back filling, one of our nurse endoscopists will take it on. If an endoscopy audit is required, a nurse endoscopist can make the time. If there is an endoscopy-related problem, a nurse endoscopist will be willing to get involved. The truth is that without nurse endoscopists, endoscopy services will not be able to make the quantum leap from ‘Cinderella speciality’ to a core hospital service that is on an equal footing with radiology. My advice to any anxious colleagues who worry about the emergence of the nurse endoscopist is to welcome them, because with their help we can make endoscopy bloom! References
- Maule WF. Screening for colorectal cancer by nurse endoscopist. NEJM 1994; 330(3):183–187.
- DiSario JA and Sanowski RA. Sigmoidoscopy training for nurses and resident physicians. Gastrointest Endosc 1993; 39(1):29–32.
- Committee on Training, Gross GWW, Bozymski EM, et al. Guidelines for training non-specialists in screening flexible sigmoidoscopy. Gastrointest Endosc 2000;51(6):783–785.
- Barrison IG, Bramble MG, Wilkinson M, et al. Provision of endoscopy related services in district general hospitals: BSG Working Party Report 2001.
- British Society of Gastroenterology. Report of the British Society of Gastroenterology Working Party—The nurse endoscopist. 1994.
- UKCC. The Scope Of Professional Practice. London UKCC 1992.
- Quine MA, Bell GD, McCloy RF, et al. Prospective audit of upper gastrointestinal endoscopy in two regions of England: safety, staffing, and sedation methods. Gut 1995; 36(3):462–467.
- Hui AJ, Lau JY, Lam PPY, et al. Comparison of colonoscopic performance between medical and nurse endoscopists: a non-inferiority randomised controlled study in Asia. Gut 2015; 64(7): 1058–1062.
- Massl R, van Putten PG, Steyerberg EW, et al. Comparing quality, safety, and costs of colonoscopies performed by nurse vs physician trainees. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2014; 12(3): 470–477.
- Schoenfeld P; Lipscomb S; Crook J; et al. Accuracy of polyp detection by gastroenterologists and nurse endoscopists during flexible sigmoidoscopy: a randomized trial. Gastroenterology 1999; 117(2): 312–318.
- Khan MI, Khan R and Owen W. Doctors and the nurse endoscopist issue in New Zealand. NZ Med J 2012; 125(1357): 88–97.
Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer—How?
What's the outlook for the development of biomarkers?
World Pancreatic Cancer Day is being held on November 13. It is estimated that 367,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer will be diagnosed worldwide in 2015 and the dismal survival rate means that only 2–10% of patients will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.Globally, pancreatic cancer is the seventh most common cause of cancer-related death, and while death rates for many cancers are dropping, the death rate for pancreatic cancer is rising in Europe and the United States.1 The mortality of pancreatic cancer may, at least in part, be explained by the fact that early diagnosis is challenging. However, advances in the development of various biomarkers appear to hold promise for future screening of high-risk individuals, which—according to Cancer Research UK—includes patients with hereditary pancreatitis, a high incidence of pancreatic cancer in their family or a family history of at least one person with pancreatic cancer plus a linked cancer syndrome (e.g. a BRCA2 mutation).2 It has been reported that levels of serum cancer antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) are elevated in approximately 80% of patients with pancreatic cancer,3 and CA19-9 has been useful for therapeutic monitoring and early detection of recurrent disease after treatment in patients with known pancreatic cancer.4 However, CA19-9 is not a specific biomarker for pancreatic cancer. Moreover, patients who are negative for Lewis antigen a or b (approximately 10% of patients with pancreatic cancer) are unable to synthesize CA19-9. Although measurement of serum CA 19-9 levels is useful in patients with known pancreatic cancer, the use of this biomarker as a screening tool has yielded disappointing results.4 In addition to genetic alterations, dysregulation of specific epigenetic mechanisms is critical to tumour development. Comparing patients who have pancreatic cancer with healthy individuals and patients with chronic pancreatitis, Schultz et al. described differences in microRNA expression in whole blood with a view to identifying microRNA panels (classifiers) for diagnosing pancreatic cancer.3 microRNAs—non-coding 17–25-nucleotide-long RNAs that regulate gene expression—play important roles in tumour development and metastasis, and several have been described as specific to pancreatic cancer. Schultz and colleagues validated microRNA panels against CA19-9 sero-status and disease, and identified two panels for diagnosing pancreatic cancer using combinations of four and ten microRNAs in whole blood, respectively. The investigators call for further studies that could validate the use of these biomarkers as a screening tool for early-stage pancreatic cancer detection. More on the role of microRNAs in pancreatic tumour growth and progression can be found in a paper by Frampton and colleagues that was published in The Lancet in February 2015.5 Even more recently, in an article in Nature, Melo and colleagues6 suggested the use of a proteoglycan molecule (glypican-1 [GPC1]) anchored in the membrane of extracellular vesicles—exosomes—circulating in the bloodstream as a cancer biomarker. In particular, the team claimed that detection of GPC1+ exosomes in the blood could distinguish patients with early-stage and late-stage pancreatic cancer from patients with benign pancreatic disease and healthy individuals. The assay appeared more reliable than that based on CA19-9 detection. Compared with healthy donors, serum CA19-9 levels were increased in patients with cancer, but CA19-9 levels were also significantly increased in the serum of patients with benign pancreatic disease. Moreover, CA19-9 levels failed to distinguish patients with pancreatic cancer precursor lesions from healthy donors. An expanded interpretation of this important study, including a discussion of semantic issues, can be found in an accompanying News & Views article by Clotilde Théry.7 Apart from microRNAs, epigenetic features such as DNA methylation, satellite repeats and histone modifications might serve as biomarkers for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.8 Reviewing genes aberrantly methylated in pancreatic cancer, Henriksen and her team concluded that investigations into hypermethylated markers in cell-free DNA in plasma or serum are still limited by the availability of only a handful of small studies, which lack well-defined control groups, and that no single gene has been identified as a diagnostic marker.9 To read more about the many challenges related to identifying biomarkers for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, I recommend looking up a review by Jenkinson and colleagues.10 There are also a couple of interesting sessions from the recently concluded UEG Week 2015 in Barcelona that I’d like to highlight—all are available online. To learn more about ‘liquid biopsies’, including cell-free DNA, exosomes, and circulating tumour cells, you could look up the talk delivered by Aldo Scarpa, “Molecular diagnostics: From tissue biomarkers to liquid biopsies, single genes and panels”, which was part of the session “Pancreatic cancer: Where are we and what is the future?”11 There’s also an update session on therapy, including talks on chemotherapy, surgical resection, preoperative and palliative treatment, and neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment.12 Finally, I would like to direct your attention to a talk that was given by Jean-Luc van Laethem, entitled “Pancreatic cancer in annual review”.13 Challenges aside, sensitive and specific biomarkers of early pancreatic cancer that can be obtained non-invasively appear critical to reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with pancreatic cancer. As we mark the 2015 World Pancreatic Cancer Day, we should set our hopes on it not being too long until one or more biomarkers prove valid for use in screening. References
- Schultz NA, Dehlendorff C, Jensen BV, et al. MicroRNA biomarkers in whole blood for detection of pancreatic cancer. JAMA 2015; 311: 392–404.
- Hidalgo M. Pancreatic cancer. N Eng J Med 2010; 362: 1605–1617.
- Frampton AE, Castellano L, Colombo T. Integrated molecular analysis to investigate the role of microRNAs in pancreatic tumour growth and progression. Lancet 2015; 385 Suppl 1: S37.
- Melo SA, Luecke LB, Kahlert C, et al. Glypican-1 identifies cancer exosomes and detects early pancreatic cancer. Nature 2015; 523: 177–182.
- Théry C. Cancer: Diagnosis by extracellular vesicles. Nature 2015; 523: 161–162.
- Fukushige S, Horii A. Road to early detection of pancreatic cancer: Attempts to utilize epigenetic biomarkers. Cancer Lett 2014; 342: 231–237.
- Henriksen SD, Madsen PH, Krarup H, et al. DNA hypermethylation as a blood-based marker for pancreatic cancer: A literature review. Pancreas 2015; 44: 1036–1045.
- Jenkinson C, Earl J, Ghaneh P, et al. Biomarkers for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2015; 9: 309—315.
- Pancreatic cancer: Where are we and what is the future? Session at UEG Week 2015.
- Therapy update: Pancreatic cancer Session at UEG Week 2015.
- Pancreatic cancer in annual review Presentation by Jean-Luc van Laetham in the Pancreas: What’s new in 2015? Session at UEG Week 2015.