Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month 2024

1st February 2024

1st February marks the start of Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month.

Guts UK Charity are a founding member of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT). Oesophageal Cancer is one of the six less survivable cancers, with an average five-year survival rate of just 16%. The LSCT is calling for all UK governments to commit to increasing survival rates for these cancers to 28% by 2029.

On this year’s Less Survival Cancers Awareness Day, the LSCT released findings based on worldwide survival rates of these less survivable cancers. Out of 33 countries, that are comparable to the UK in wealth and income levels, the UK ranks 16th for oesophageal cancer

Man talking on smartphone holding a pastry in his hand

Why you need to know the symptoms of oesophageal cancer

As with any cancer, it’s important that oesophageal cancer is diagnosed early enough. This is for the best chance of survival. However, we are seeing over 20% of oesophageal cancer cases being diagnosed in emergency settings such as A&E. Unfortunately, at this stage, the cancer has often progressed to a later stage. Therefore, it is harder to treat. Our research with the LSCT shows that less than 2% of people can correctly identify all the symptoms when it comes to oesophageal cancer.

Know the symptoms of oesophageal cancer!

You don’t have to experience all of the below symptoms to have oesophageal cancer

  • Long-standing, persistent heartburn that doesn’t react to over-the-counter medication
  • Difficulty swallowing, or pain when swallowing (this often starts with solid foods such as meat and bread).
  • Weight loss
  • Choking, vomiting and coughing
  • Unexplained chest infections
  • A hoarse voice

Going to the doctor early when symptoms begin is vital, to increase the chances of early diagnosis and effective treatment.

Imagine if a bag of breath could diagnose cancer?

Katja, Guts UK's oesophageal cancer researcher is smiling.Guts UK is very proud to be funding research aiming to earlier diagnose oesophageal cancer using just a bag of breath! This research is being lead by Dr. Katja Christodoulou, working with Prof. George Hanna at Imperial College London. Prof. Hanna has been working on how we can use breath to diagnose cancers for over 15 years.

If successful, this research could save lives by diagnosing oesophageal cancer sooner, giving people a fighting chance.

Barrett’s Oesophagus

If you are someone who experiences regular heartburn and acid reflux, it is worth speaking with your GP about a condition called Barrett’s oesophagus.

Those with Barrett’s oesophagus are more likely than the general population to develop oesophageal cancer. It’s important that people are diagnosed, so they can be monitored for any changes in the cells lining their oesophagus.

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