Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month

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As February draws to a close we cannot overlook that it is oesophageal cancer awareness month.

Awareness days and months are a salient way to raise the profile of health conditions. With knowledge comes power and this is paramount when dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Finding it early is key.

Approximately 9,000 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, in the UK every year. Sadly it is one of the less survivable cancers with the average five-year survival rate being 16%.

What exactly is the oesophagus?

The oesophagus is the tube that runs from your mouth to your stomach, forming part of your digestive system.


The most common symptom is difficulty swallowing medically termed dysphagia; a sensation akin to food sticking in your throat or chest.

Symptoms can also include: –

  • pain in your throat or the middle of your chest, particularly when swallowing
  • loss of appetite or weight loss without trying
  • pain in your chest or back
  • food coming back up
  • feeling sick or being sick
  • a horse voice or a cough that does not go away
  • indigestion or heart burn.

If you experience symptoms which are not usual for you, never be afraid to seek medical advice.

Barrett’s oesophagus

This is a condition whereby some of the cells that line your oesophagus grow abnormally. People with this condition can have an increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer.

Diagnosing oesophageal cancer

The disease is normally diagnosed following a gastroscopy which is a way of looking at the lining of your oesophagus and stomach.

Receiving news of such a diagnosis can be difficult to process. A specialist medical team will be appointed to guide and support you.


In addition there are many wonderful organisations that provide help for you and your loved ones, such as Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK and The Oesophageal Patients Association (OPA).


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