Lobby of Parliament on 13 October

There is an Oesophageal Cancer Westminster Campaign that is in its early stages. Part of the campaign is a lobby and reception that is due to be held on Monday 13 October 2014, the first day back at Westminster after the party conference season.

So, if you feel strongly about oesophageal cancer and whether the government might do more to promote earlier diagnosis and thereby save more lives, now is your chance to do something specific.

You can write to your MP, using writetothem.com if you need details of who your MP is, and to use an email format.

We would like to see the government giving a high priority to promoting earlier diagnosis. It is not rocket science or sophisticated research (although some of this would also help mightily) for many cases of this cancer, because there is a relationship between persistent heartburn, the onset of Barrett's Oesophagus, and the development of dysplasia which carries a significant risk of adenocarcinoma. We could do an awful lot better if our excellent surgeons saw more people before it was too late.

Sean Duffy, the national Clinical Director for Cancer, has done a great job in promoting a 'Be Clear on cancer' campaign in North East England earlier this year on oesophago-gastric cancer, and the informal feedback is that this went very well. The evaluation results are not in yet, but we would like to see that campaign being extended to a national level early in 2015.

We would like to see Barrett's Oesophagus recognised as a condition that needs proper diagnosis, surveillance and treatment as a strategy to prevent cancer deaths. If cases where dysplasia develops are treated with radio frequency ablation then it may well avoid the need for an oesophagectomy.

You can read more about what Action Against Heartburn are proposing here:

actionagainstheartburn.org....

Encouraging your MP to write to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, Department of Health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS is one way of getting MPs on board and raising the profile of this campaign - or you could write to Jeremy Hunt direct.

Many of you on this site will be only too pleased to think that what you have had to go through might be avoided for people in the future.

2 Replies

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  • As someone who was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer late last year whilst being monitored because of my Barrett's I would urge everyone to support this move.

    I suffered from Acid reflux throughout my 30's in the 1970's and at the time doctors just told me to use anti acid tablets with limit success at limiting the acid attacks. only in 1999 when I changed GP that she referred me for Endoscopy and the Barrett's was diagnosed.

    Luckily for me my local Health Authority - South Warwickshire - was running a surveillance programme for Barrett's and I was put on annual endoscopies.

    In late 2012 there was a change and some dysplasia was noted and I was put on 6 monthly surveillance. Had I known then what I now know I would have tried to get the Barrett's ablated.

    However at the second endoscopy in 2013 Cancer was detected and the doctor at my local hospital told me i should have an oesophagectomy but as I had done some research i knew that it was possible to treat early cancer by endoscopic means.

    I asked for a referral to UCHL and was seen within 3 weeks by Dr Heidry and within another 2 weeks I had had the cancer removed by endoscopy and since then have undergone three more procedures and ablation by RF. I have to return in September for I hope a surveillance and biopsy although another small amount of ablation may be required.

    Throughout the procedures I have received excellent treatment and have nothing but praise for the doctors and staff at UCHL. I will obviously be under 3 monthly surveillance for some time but a wonderful outcome compared with what might have been had not the cancer been discovered early enough.

    All the procedures have been done on a daily basis and I have been able to travel by train to London and return the same day.

    Since my diagnosis I have learnt that 3 of my friends have been diagnosed with Barrett's but only one is being given regular endoscopies and then only at three year intervals.

  • I've forwarded a copy of the details on the action against heartburn link, along with a request to contact the Secretary of State, to my local MP, Yvette Cooper. I've also put the details on my Facebook timeline, and a page that I run, asking all of my friends, and everyone that they may share with, to contact their own MP's with the same request.

    I was originally diagnosed with Barrett's, though this was later changed to cancer. Chemotherapy followed, and then what turned out to be four operations, and the eventual removal of my entire stomach and oesophagus. I'm alive, but I would dearly have loved for an earlier diagnosis which might have saved my stomach, and avoided the consequences that I've had since.

    My best wishes to the efforts of everyone involved in trying to highlight this illness.

    Paul

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