Published: 13-09-2011 00:00 | Updated: 07-07-2014 13:02

Research on oesophageal cancer rewarded by Skandia

Skandia's Lennart Levi Prize at Karolinska Institutet is to be presented this year to Professor Jesper Lagergren of the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery in recognition of his research into oesophageal cancer. The prize is worth 100,000 SEK and is to be awarded in conjunction with Karolinska Institutet's installation ceremony in the Berwald Hall on 8 November 2011.

"As a surgeon and epidemiological researcher, Professor Lagergren has made an exceptional contribution to medical science's understanding of oesophageal cancer. This knowledge has enabled better prophylaxis, diagnostics and early treatment and thus helped to improve healthcare provision and reduce patient suffering," says Professor Göran Elinder, award panel member.

Professor Lagergren has devoted much of his professional life to understanding oesophageal cancer, especially gland cell cancer, and why it is on such a sharp rise in the West.

"From having been very rare up until the 1970s, it's now the fastest growing form of cancer in the western world," he says.

Possible reasons are that the strongest risk factor for oesophageal cancer, pyrosis, is becoming increasingly common, as is overweight, another major risk factor. A third possible reason is that an earlier "protective" stomach infection, atrophic gastritis, is no longer as common as it once was.

"The cancer affects men more than women by a factor of 7 to 1. We don't know why this is, but it could have something to do with sex hormones," adds Professor Lagergren.

The Skandia Lennart Levi prize was founded in 2010 to mark Lennart Levi's 80th birthday and will be awarded annually for a period of five years. Candidates must be internationally outstanding researchers active in Sweden or elsewhere.