Oesophageal Patients Association
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Awareness Campaign

This is to let everybody know that we are planning an awareness campaign for oesophageal & gastric cancer, and have combined with some other charities to try and take up the cause.

Basically, early diagnosis makes such an enormous difference to the outcome of treatment that we want to encourage those with symptoms to visit their GP earlier, and for all GPs to send people for tests more promptly.

The Department of Health are actively pursuing this too as part of their 'Be Clear on Cancer' campaigns and there are going to be some pilot schemes around Easter time.

We have website actionagainstheartburn.org.uk so if you have time, please visit it - at the very least it will help to push up our google ratings!

70% of the oesophageal cancer cases in the UK are linked to heartburn and Barrett's oesophagus and it is this type of cancer (ie adenocarcinoma) that is increasing more quickly. So as well as the danger signs of having difficulty swallowing food etc we want to try and get more people who have Barrett's Oesophagus diagnosed, into the system, monitored and treated before they have any further trouble. It can take many years, and it is only a small proportion who do develop cancer, but we think it is really worthwhile to concentrate on this aspect because it is a genuine early warning sign that other types of cancer do not necessarily have.

14 Replies

Thats really good news!

It would be great to see posters in every GP waiting room too alongside the other cancer awareness posters!



Good news

I was one of the luckier ones as my cancer was caught early

I had been suffering from heartburn for a long time and went to my GP who was very sympathetic and sent me for an endoscopy, which diagnosed barrets and eventually adenocarcinoma..

I had no idea that heartburn could result in cancer, so I think any campaign that can bring this to the attention of the public is a very good thing

Best regards to all



Good news. There doesn't seem to be much awareness of this type of cancer out there and I believe its on the rise?


Have added a link to the site on barrettswessex.org.uk and promoted it on Barrett's Oesophagus Campaign forum (www.barrettscampaign.org.uk/forum) and facebook "Raising Awareness - Cancer of the Oesophagus" (http://www.facebook.com/groups/40251501786)

Must get the message out there.

Chris (chairman@barrettswessex.org.uk)


I went into Boots the other day and bought some Rennie, two boxes for one so I bagged a bargin and bought four boxes, the counter assistant suggested I consult my doctor if was in so much need of the medication. I was very pleased with what she said and I thanked her. These companies who sell this type of product could do there selves a good turn by appearing to show a benevolent concern in their advertising by saying something like. “We are so pleased you find our product a useful aide to stem your heartburn but persistent heartburn should be referred to your GP”.



Dear Steve,

That is really good. One of the themes of the campaign will be directed at pharmacies. And it really helps when the pharmacy staff get thanked too. One of the charities is run by a lady called Mimi McCord who lost her husband Roger from oesophageal cancer, and when an assistant said the same to her when she was buying indigestion remedies she was over the moon that the message was getting across.



Great idea. There is a local campaign based in NE England called Oesophagoose with exactly the same motive.



Don't know if any links could be made via them. Their posters are widely distributed areond here, butthe more the merrier.


Dear Fred

Yes, we have been in touch with them from the start and the Department of Health have given the North East money for one of the pilot campaigns - so that is good.



Greater awareness will give people more confidence to go to GP'S. I had just taken early retirement when,after my wifes persuasion,I visited my GP. I know had I still been working I would have kept putting it off. My only symptom was occasionally - twice a month- I would regurgitate a little food. My GP arranged an endoscopy and even then I had not given cancer a thought and felt I was wasting their time. I was fit and healthy with an active lifestyle. I was stunned when informed it was oesophageal cancer - i had never heard of it. It was staged as a T3 and had got into nodes near liver stomach and lungs. I was told had it been left much longer the prognosis could have been much different and how lucky I was that my GP made a quick referral. Good luck. Terry


Despite some pretty high profile cases, this dreadful disease is relatively unknown. I always go straight to the doctor if I'm worried about something and I did when I had persistent pain on swallowing. It took quite a long time with various antacid drugs before I was finally referred for a barium swallow which showed a clear narrowing of the oesophagus and then following a subsequent endoscopy it was all too obvious.

I'm not blaming anyone for the delay in getting to diagnosis but if I had been more aware of what my symptoms could have meant, I would have pushed hard for tests. Following my barium swallow, I spent a lot of time on google and I had worked it out before the endoscopy - there weren't really many things it could have been.

Greater awareness has to be a really good thing and with the high profile cases that we've seen in recent times, this would help strike a chord for a lot of people.



One issue may be that we are relatively used to having indigestion-type problems, and they usually pass off OK, but it this persistence of the symptoms that we want to emphasise.

I also think that the way in which we tell the doctor our story might affect things.

In the GPs surgery, the chances are that medication will probably act to settle things down in most cases, but it is the minority of times when there is a more sinister underlying cause that needs to be investigated.


So glad that Barretts is being highlighted.


For years I suffered with heartburn, then a visit to the doctors who said it was probably Barratts he put me on Lansoprazole and arranged for an endoscopy.

Every 2 years I have had a routine endoscopy, then in December 2011 I was called to see the consultant who said I had the early stages of cancer.

So having regular endoscopes helped find my cancer early.

Now I wait for surgery.


I am really pleased to hear that there is increasing support for early diagnosis for any type of cancer that could be related to acid reflux, heartburn or indigestion. I had a periiod of about 10 years where I was getting some form of indigestion and occasional heartburn. The first symptom that caused me to go to the GP was severe pain on trying to eat an apple. The resultant endoscopy showing that I had a 12cm tumor was totally devastating!! The follow up surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and still more to come was the biggest lifechanging event that anyone could go through.

I know it's easy to say "if only" but as more and more cases are being diagnosed I feel we MUST get more people to know what the effects could be of not paying attentions to these symptoms. Leaving them to be treated by just having anti-acid tablets is not good enough as I know only too well!!

Perhaps somebody knows how to get the info included in one the many TV Hospital dramas. Lets face it they get a huge audience and if somebody out there knows a scriptwriter - - - - -?


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