A health campaign is urging people not to ignore heartburn, because it could be a sign of stomach or oesophageal cancer.
According to Public Health England, people should go to their doctor if they have persistent heartburn or difficulty swallowing food for three weeks or more. But it said most people were not aware of the symptoms. Stomach and oesophageal cancers are the fifth most common cancers in England. PHE figures show that around 12,900 people in England are diagnosed with these cancers each year and approximately 10,000 people die from the diseases annually.
Yet, around 950 lives could be saved each year if survival rates for oesophago-gastric cancers matched the best in Europe, it says.
Spotting the signs
At present, the UK has the highest rate of oesophageal cancer in men and women in the EU, which may be due to smoking, rising obesity levels, a lack of fruit and vegetables in our diet and regular alcohol consumption.
The earlier the cancers are diagnosed, the more likely the treatment is to be successful.
This is why Public Health England’s “Be Clear on Cancer” campaign is focusing on how to spot the signs of oesophageal or stomach cancer.
The signs can include:
- Indigestion on and off for three weeks or more
- Feeling food sticking in your throat when you swallow
- Losing weight for no obvious reason
- Trapped wind and frequent burping
- Feeling full very quickly when eating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain or discomfort in top of stomach
If you have any concerns please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at The Functional Gut Clinic as we will be more than happy to advise you on how to get a referral.