Oesophago-gastric cancer – know the symptoms
|Oesophago-gastric cancer – know the symptoms|
|Thursday, 29 March 2012 14:05|
A public information campaign to help people recognise the early symptoms of Oesophago-gastric cancer launches at the beginning of April for three months across Hertfordshire, Luton and South Bedfordshire as part of the national ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign. Billboards, bus shelters and local radio advertising as well as a series of countywide awareness raising events at ASDAs will be used to promote the campaign.
All local GPs and medical centres, pharmacies and hospitals will also have information available about the campaign which focuses on two simple symptom messages, aimed primarily at people aged 55 and over; –
Dr Phil Sawyer, a Hertfordshire GP who is championing the campaign said: “Every year in England, nearly 7,000 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and more than 6,000 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer. Cancer caught early is easier to treat which is why it is so important to get possible symptoms checked out quickly”.
“Indigestion can happen to anyone, but persistent indigestion and/or heartburn symptoms do need checking out by a GP and if you have difficulty swallowing food, make a GP appointment straight away. It may turn out not to be serious, but if it is cancer, finding and treating it early will make a real difference”. Dr Sawyer added “And, if you have a friend or family member who is experiencing symptoms, do encourage them to talk to their GP too.”
Geoff Proudlock did just that when in his mid 50s he experienced occasional problems with food getting stuck in his gullet, but had thought nothing of it until on New Year’s Day 2007, a piece of chicken got stuck and would just not go down. He saw his GP, who referred him to a hospital specialist for tests. These confirmed that there was a constriction at the base of his gullet and, following an endoscopy and CT scan, a tumour was diagnosed in Geoff’s lower Oesophagus. A PET scan quickly followed at Mount Vernon Hospital, which confirmed that the tumour was about an inch long and operable. Geoff underwent three cycles of Chemotherapy and then, in June 2007, had surgery to remove approximately five inches of his gullet and the top half of his stomach. He was in hospital in Watford for a total of twelve days, spending the first 24 hours after his operation in intensive care. The pathology results showed that the tumour had breached the outer wall of his oesophagus and reached a nearby lymph gland. This meant that Geoff had to undergo further chemotherapy, but five years later, Geoff is in remission and feeling fit and well. He is now retired and has become an active member of the Mount Vernon Cancer Network User Partnership Group. Geoff’s message is clear; “If you experience any difficulty in swallowing, it’s absolutely vital to go and see your GP quickly – don’t ignore it, get it checked out”.
Barbara Gill is Director of the Mount Vernon Cancer Network, which brings together all the people and organisations involved in cancer care across Hertfordshire, Luton and South Bedfordshire. She said: “Early detection is the best way of improving survival rates for all types of cancer. At the moment not enough people are aware of the symptoms of oesophago-gastric cancer which means that the disease is often diagnosed at a late stage when the cancer is more advanced and much more difficult to treat. This campaign will raise awareness of the key symptoms and point people in the direction of their GP if they do have any of these signs.”
Images from ASDA Watford event
L-R Adrian Mariappa (WFC), Harry the Hornet, Barbara Gill Director MVCN, Stephen McGinn (WFC)
features two of the patients treated, one is Alan Cooke (L) and the other is Bob Dodds [R} who is one of the case studies.