I thought it would be helpful if I explained the background as to why we have set the latest poll. It is to do with earlier diagnosis and how this affects the chances of successful treatment.
The Department of Health are planning an awareness campaign to raise awareness about oesophagogastric cancer with a view to improving earlier diagnosis.
"We continue to believe it is important to trial an earlier diagnosis campaign for OG cancer, for the following reasons:
* Cancer survival outcomes for people diagnosed with OG cancer are poorer in England than other comparable countries in Europe
* The poorer one year survival rates is very largely indicative of late diagnosis - if other countries can diagnose OG cancer earlier, then we need to do so too
* 30% of OG cancer patients reported they had visited their GP four or more times and 15% reported they did not see their GP before going to hospital. These patients are very likely to have presented as emergencies.
* There is wide variation in gastroscopy rates by PCT across the country.
Following further consideration and discussion, we have decided that the campaign messaging will focus on people:
- who have had difficulty in swallowing, or
- over 55 who have had indigestion which is not relieved by over the counter medication, for more than 3 weeks. "
We completely agree with what they say in most respects but we are very worried that the 55 year age limit might be wrong. We know that there have been cancer cases for much younger people but do not know how many.
We also think that setting this age limit might result in more younger people not being sent for an endoscopy when this would make a difference. The Department of Health are naturally worried about the endoscopy resources being swamped with 'the worried well'.
So setting the poll may help us to gather a better picture and we would be most grateful for your help and comments.