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Be clear on cancer campaign launched

A national campaign has been launched urging people to visit their doctor if they have excessive heartburn.

'Be Clear on Cancer”, launched today (26 Jan 2015) highlights how having heartburn most days for more than three weeks could indicate oesophageal or stomach cancer.

The campaign launch follows the results of a survey commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) which revealed that only 55% of people would visit their doctor for persistent heartburn.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, explains the importance of this awareness activity:

“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, which is what this latest Be Clear on Cancer campaign aims to do.”

Early diagnosis of oesophageal or stomach cancer can significantly improve the outcome of treatment.

Around 67% of people with an early diagnosis survive the early stage for at least five years. This figure drops to 3% for those diagnosed late.

Sean Duffy, national clinical director for cancer at NHS England, said:

“Early diagnosis of cancer is absolutely critical to improving survival. Part of this is helping people understand what symptoms to look out for, which is why campaigns like this are so important.

“Patients with possible early signs and symptoms should visit their GP so where necessary they can be referred for tests, and treatment can start quickly.

“Early diagnosis is a key focus for us and will form part of the NHS's new five year strategy for cancer, currently being developed by an independent taskforce.”