February is oesophageal cancer awareness month In the UK around 8000 people die from oesophageal cancer every year. That’s 22 death’s every day. Only 14% of those people diagnosed will still be alive after 5 years. However, 59% of oesophageal cancer cases are preventable. One of the most common symptoms of oesophageal cancer is persistent heartburn, this means heartburn (or reflux) that happens most days for three weeks or more. The oesophagus is the tube that carries food, liquids and saliva from the mouth to the stomach (see image). Heartburn occurs when the muscles at the lower end of the oesophagus become weak and allow digestive juices from the stomach and small bowel to flow back up. It often results in feeling a burning pain in the chest which may rise up and spread to the throat and jaw but other symptoms include: a sour taste in the back of your mouth. food coming back up into your mouth after eating (regurgitation). a hoarse voice. a cough that does not go away. If you experience any of these symptoms for three weeks or more they should not be ignored or treated with over-the counter-remedies such as Gaviscon or Rennie. They should be discussed with your GP. Oesophageal cancer is much more treatable if it is caught early, so please don’t delay, make an appointment with your doctor. If this information is relevant to you then please take action this February. One simple phone call to your GP really could save your life. If you know someone who regularly buys reflux remedies then please pass this information on. Take action during oesophageal cancer awareness month – you may make a difference to someone’s future.