Shadow Health Minister Andrew Gwynne addressed a reception hosted by Mike Thornton MP at the Palace of Westminster to show his support for efforts to tackle the relatively unknown oesophageal cancer, which is one of the fastest rising cancers in men in the UK, with survival rates of only 1 in 10.
The Oesophageal Cancer Westminster Campaign (OCWC) organised this reception, aimed at raising awareness of a condition for which there are over 8,000 cases every year but remains relatively unknown by both the public, and healthcare professionals. The OCWC is a new patient-led initiative designed to improve the awareness and treatment of oesophageal (gullet) cancer.
The event was attended by many parliamentarians, and was supported by a number of representatives from charities, health professionals, the general public and those affected by oesophageal cancer. Speakers included Mike Thornton MP, Tim Underwood, interim chair of the Oesophageal Cancer Westminster Campaign. Those present also heard from health ministers Norman Lamb MP and Jane Ellison MP and heard via a patient video the story and experience of Les Allen and clinician Professor Bhandari.
Few people will know that acid reflux leading to heartburn could predispose to Barrett’s oesophagus and cancer. However 70% of cases of oesophageal cancer are heavily associated with a condition called Barrett’s oesophagus. If patients undergo regular check-ups with the aim of detecting pre-cancerous changes amenable to treatment then should cancer develop it can be caught early and can improve 5 year survival to 50% or more.
The OCWC celebrated the recent announcement that Public Health England will be launching a national Be Clear on Cancer campaign to raise awareness of oesophago-gastric cancer. Activity will run from 26 January, 2015 to the end of February, 2015. The campaign is aimed at men and women aged 50 years and over and focuses on key symptoms of oesophageal and stomach cancers.
Tim Underwood, interim chair of the Oesophageal Cancer Westminster Campaign said, “Through strategies for early recognition and treatment, many more oesophageal cancer patients will be diagnosed and survival rates will improve.”
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“Awareness among the public about the causes of oesophageal cancer is very low. Few people will know that acid reflux leading to heartburn could predispose to Barrett’s oesophagus and cancer.
“I was keen to speak at his event to show my support for efforts to tackle this cancer and save lives. I want to see a public awareness campaign for oesophageal cancer.”