Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month & Guts UK’s Research

2nd February 2020

February is Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month so the Guts UK team will be busy raising awareness of risk factors and symptoms of oesophageal cancer, and spreading the word about the research we fund into oesophageal cancer.

Oesophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK. The oesophagus is the food pipe that leads from the throat to the stomach, where the body generates strong acid as a natural part of a healthy digestive system. But when the acid rises up past the diaphragm, something known as reflux, the lining of the oesophagus cannot cope with the acid, and can result in chest pain known as heartburn. Heartburn is very common and affects up to 25% of UK adults.

Heartburn is a common problem that occurs after eating, lying down or bending over and is usually described as a ‘burning’ sensation. If it lasts more than three weeks or persists when avoiding trigger foods/making lifestyle changes or food gets stuck when you swallow, you should see your GP to discuss further.

Around 10% of persistent heartburn sufferers who have longstanding reflux problems may develop a condition called Barrett’s Oesophagus where the cells in the oesophagus start to change colour, which can lead to dysplasia (a precursor to cancer). This can be treated to prevent cancer occurring. 59% of oesophageal cancer cases are preventable.

Guts UK is proud to fund research into Barrett’s Oesophagus & Oesophageal Cancer. This clinical study is led by Dr Sara Jamel, based across London and will examine whether gases from cell changes (dysplasia) in Barrett’s Oesophagus can be detected by a breath test. Patients will be asked to undergo a breath test – a quick, non-invasive and cost-effective method. The breath is collected into small tubes located within a mask. These samples will be analysed in a laboratory for gases omitted from cells. If successful, this research could shape medical practice and become an effective identification tool that could diagnose oesophageal cancer earlier and save lives. 

Read our interview with Dr Jamel here

 

Guts UK is a proud founding member of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce. 

This taskforce is a radical group aiming to double survival rates for the six least survivable cancers by 2029. Four of these six cancers are digestive; stomach, pancreatic, oesophageal and liver.

Discover how you can get involved here, email us at info@gutscharity.org.uk or call 01484 483123 to learn more. Hearing from you is the best part of our job – don’t be a stranger!

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