Northern Ireland charity OG Cancer NI warned people with symptoms of oesophageal and stomach cancer to contact their doctor as soon as possible as they launch their “Catch It Early” 2021 awareness campaign.
More than 400 people per year were diagnosed with oesophageal and stomach cancer each year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and OG Cancer NI, chair, Helen Setterfield, feels it is now more important as ever to make sure that anyone worried seeks help.
“The current lockdowns and urgent need to protect the health service has affected the number of people contacting their doctors,” she said.
“But you should not hesitate to make the call if you experience persistent heartburn that doesn’t go away, trouble swallowing, regurgitation or hiccups that do not go away”
“Recent figures show that there has been a drop in the number of referrals to GPs of patients showing symptoms in 2020 compared to previous years so we want to make sure that we reverse that.
“Early diagnosis leads to a much better chance of survival from this cancer which has a 20% survival rate of five or more years, according to the NI Cancer Registry 2019.”
Helen herself is a survivor of oesophageal cancer as is Shauneen Brown from Lurgan.
Even though the majority of cases are diagnosed in men and women over 60,
Shauneen wants everyone to be aware of the symptoms: “I was 40 when I was diagnosed and we know of people in their 30s who have been diagnosed and treated,” she explained.
“Just because you might not fit the typical statistic doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take your symptoms seriously.”
OG Cancer NI was founded in 2018 and provides telephone support to newly diagnosed patients, information stands in the hospital, wellbeing meetings providing peer to peer and professional advice and support and funding for local research or equipment projects which will improve patient wellbeing.
“We work with GPs to raise awareness so when patients present with the symptoms of Oesophageal and Gastric cancers they take the appropriate action,” said Helen.
“Consult your doctor if you experience persistent or recurring Indigestion, food sticking in your throat, difficulty swallowing, heartburn or acid reflux, hiccups that won’t go away, or unexplained weight loss.”
The OG Cancer NI Catch It Early campaign, funded by the National Lottery and OG Cancer, strives not only to increase the awareness of the signs of oesophageal-gastric cancers in the public but also throughout the medical and caring professions.
For further information go to ogcancerni.com, follow #OGCancerNI, call 07568 157450 or make an appointment to see your local GP today.