Did you know whether you had Barrett's Oesophagus before being diagnosed with cancer?

There has been a recent study published from Holland that indicates that patients on a Barrett's Oesophagus surveillance programme do much better when they are diagnosed with oesophageal adenocarcinoma compared with others who had not been diagnosed with Barrett's.

We think this is quite logical: the study shows that the cancer was caught at an earlier stage. But the paper also points out that the endoscopy and biopsies have to be done properly if the process is to be effective.

The issue is relevant for adenocarcinoma (about 70% of UK oesophageal cancer cases) but not nearly so much for squamous cell carcinoma. Not everyone knows which one they had, but adenocarcinoma tends to be associated with acid reflux and the tumour tends to be lower down the oesophagus around the junction with the stomach; squamous cell carcinoma tends to be higher up towards the throat.

All this is very relevant to our Action Against Heartburn campaign - raising awareness of persistent heartburn symptoms, getting an examination to check on Barrett's Oesophagus (BO), monitoring, or treating BO with radio frequency ablation, as appropriate, and promoting earlier diagnosis of cancer.

But quite a lot of patients diagnosed with adenocarcinoma in Holland did not know that they had been suffering from BO. We wonder whether that is true in the UK as well?

So there is a new poll asking questions about this issue, and if you can spend a few minutes contributing to it, we would be most grateful.


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