Published Tuesday 3 February 2015 at 15:10
Blackburn with Darwen Council is backing a new national campaign raising awareness of persistent heartburn as a possible sign of oesophageal (gullet) or gastric (stomach) cancer – also known as oesophago-gastric cancer.
The Be Clear on Cancer campaign urges people to visit their doctor if they have heartburn most days for three weeks or more, as this can be a sign of oesophago-gastric cancer.
Latest data reveals around 630 people are diagnosed with oesophago-gastric cancers in Cumbria and Lancashire each year. However a recent Public Health England survey showed that only 1 in 2 people would visit their doctor if they experience prolonged heartburn.
Early diagnosis is crucial and means treatment is more likely to be successful. Nationally, around 67% of people diagnosed with oesophago-gastric cancers at the earliest stage survive for at least five years. This figure drops to around 3% for those diagnosed at a late stage.
Dr Gifford Kerr, Consultant in Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “People may be reluctant to visit their doctor about persistent heartburn, thinking that it’s something they just have to live with. But heartburn most days for three weeks or more could be a sign of cancer as could food feeling like it’s sticking in your throat when you swallow. The chances are it’s nothing serious but finding it early makes it more treatable and early diagnosis and treatment of cancer can save lives. The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival.”
For further information about the signs and symptoms of oesophageal and stomach cancers, please visit nhs.uk/ogcancer