This is an advance warning that February 2017 is Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month.
The aim is to raise awareness about oesophageal cancer and to achieve as much publicity as possible. It builds on our experience in February 2016, and we hope to do even better this time in more areas of the country.
Our main activity is to visit local pharmacies and distribute posters and leaflets that are aimed at regular users of Gaviscon and other over-the-counter remedies, advising them to visit their GP. It is this target group that we are most concerned about because we know that 70% of the oesophageal cancer cases in the UK involve adenocarcinoma that is often associated with long-term unresolved reflux and the precursor condition Barrett's Oesophagus. The UK is reported as having the highest incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma in the world. So diagnosing, monitoring and treating Barrett's Oesophagus is a key way forward.
We do need help from as many individuals and groups of volunteers as possible. It is something that you can do completely in your own time and at your own pace. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you out a package, after Christmas, with posters, leaflets and a briefing note for the pharmacists themselves. One volunteer this last February was delivering some leaflets when a lady immediately told her that she had been suffering heartburn for years, and this lady was then diagnosed with Barrett's Oesophagus not long afterwards - so it can be immensely rewarding.
Nearly all the organisations involved in Action Against Heartburn (www.actionagainstheartburn.org.uk) are taking part. The OPA's awareness campaign is called Reflux. Barrett's Wessex are organising a number of events:
Some Burns Night Suppers are being organised with a [Heart]Burns Night theme.
We encourage as many local awareness raising initiatives as possible.
So do contact me if you feel able to help in any way at all!