Sefton Council is supporting the latest Public Health England (PHE) campaign to raise awareness that ongoing heartburn can be a sign of cancer.

The campaign, launched this week, urges people to visit their GP if they have heartburn most days for three weeks or more, as this can be a sign of oesophageal or stomach cancer.

Cllr Paul Cummins, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Older People and Health, said: “Early diagnosis and treatment of cancer can save lives. Heartburn most days for three weeks or more could be a sign of cancer as could food feeling like it’s sticking in your throat when you swallow. I would urge anyone experiencing these symptoms to seek medical help.

“The chances are it’s nothing serious but finding it early makes it more treatable and early diagnosis and treatment of cancer can save lives.”

Launched on January 26, the campaign will run across England for four weeks aiming to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of oesophageal cancer (cancer of the gullet/foodpipe) and stomach cancer.

Early diagnosis of oesophageal or stomach cancer (also known as oespohagogastric cancers) is crucial and means treatment is more likely to be successful. Nationally, around 67% of people diagnosed with oesophago-gastric cancers at the earliest stage survive for at least five years. This figure drops to around 3% for those diagnosed at a late stage.

Dr Janet Atherton, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, explains the importance of the awareness activity: “People may be reluctant to visit their GP about persistent heartburn, because they think it’s something they just have to live with.

“The campaign highlights that heartburn most days for three weeks or more could be a sign of cancer. We need to encourage Sefton residents with symptoms to go to their GP, which is what this latest Be Clear on campaign aims to do.”

It has been estimated that around 950 lives could be saved in England each year if our survival rates for oesophago-gastric cancers matched the best in Europe.

For more information about the signs and symptoms of oesophageal and stomach cancers, please visitwww.nhs.uk/ogcancer

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