Oesophageal cancer rise prompts GP visit advice

Patients with persistent acid reflux are being encouraged to visit their GP to check for signs of oesophageal cancer, after figures revealed rates of the disease have risen 50% in the past four decades.

Patients with chronic heartburn are urged to visit their GP (Photo: iStock)
Patients with chronic heartburn are urged to visit their GP (Photo: iStock)

Rates of the disease have risen from eight per 100,000 in 1971 to 13 per 100,000 today, according to the latest figures from Cancer Research UK.

The charity has urged patients with persistent acid reflux – an important risk factor for oesophageal cancer, alongside smoking, drinking and obesity – to contact their GP.

Mr Tim Underwood, an oesophageal surgeon and a Cancer Research UK researcher at the University of Southampton, said: ‘People should be aware that persistent heartburn is not normal. If this is happening to you, you need to see your GP.

'The vast majority of people won’t have anything seriously wrong with them, but it’s important to get it checked out.’

He added: ‘These figures are a clear reminder that we’ve still a long way to go with oesophageal cancer. We must do more to diagnose the disease as early as possible.’

Almost 8,000 people die each year from the disease, which is now the fourth most common cause of cancer death among men in the UK.

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