New NHS campaign to reduce oesophageal cancer deaths through public awareness of symptoms and earlier diagnosis

Posted: 26/02/2015

A father from Sittingbourne, Kent is calling for better awareness of oesophageal cancer among medical professionals and the public. Bruce Millar, 57 was prescribed indigestion tablets by his GP after he reported trouble swallowing. Mr Millar was told he was suffering from indigestion and prescribed omeprazole when, in fact, he had cancer of the oesophagus.

Oesophageal cancer is a particularly aggressive form of cancer. However, the symptoms are often mistaken for heartburn or indigestion, meaning death rates among patients are high. According to the London Evening Standard, 1,212 people were diagnosed with oesophageal or stomach cancer in 2012 of whom  936  - nearly three people a day  - died. 

Luckily, by the time he was diagnosed, Mr Millar’s tumour had not perforated his stomach lining and he was able to receive surgery and chemotherapy to treat it. 

Mr Millar is now backing a new NHS campaign which aims to reduce deaths from this type of cancer through early detection. The campaign urges the public to visit their GP if they have experienced heartburn often, for three weeks or more. 

Rebecca Morgan, a clinical negligence solicitor at Penningtons Manches commented: “At Penningtons Manches, we regularly deal with clinical negligence claims involving a delay in diagnosis of cancer, which can often have catastrophic consequences. There needs to be a raised awareness of the symptoms of all types of cancer among the medical profession and the public in order to ensure that diagnosis is reached at the earliest possible stage so that sufferers have the best chances of recovery.”

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