Spot cancer signs early

Health bosses in the North East are backing a campaign to help people spot the signs of cancer.

The Be Clear On Cancer campaign follows a successful pilot in the North East and North Cumbria last year and focuses on raising awareness of oesophageal and stomach cancer.

Around 750 people in the region are diagnosed with oesophageal or stomach cancer, and approximately 580 patients in the North East die of the diseases, each year. Early diagnosis is crucial as nationally 67 per cent of those diagnosed at the earliest stage survive for at least five years, compared to around three per cent of people diagnosed at a late stage.

Having heartburn most days for three weeks or more can be a symptom, but a recent survey by Public Health England showed that just 55 per cent of those questioned would visit their doctor if they experienced it.

The survey found that 59 per cent of respondents did not know that heartburn could be a sign of cancer, and just 15 per cent were certain it is. It also showed that 70 per cent were unaware that food sticking in the throat could be a symptom.

Director of Public Health England’s North East Centre Dr Roberta Marshall said: “People may be reluctant to visit their doctor about persistent heartburn, thinking that it’s something they just have to live with. But heartburn most days for three weeks or more could be a sign of cancer.

“The earlier cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chance of survival. If we’re to improve early diagnosis rates we need to encourage people with symptoms to go to their doctor.”

Visit www.nhs.uk/ogcancer for information.