1. ITV Report

How to recognise the symptoms of cancer of the oesophagus

Cancer of the oesophagus - or gullet - is often diagnosed too late Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA

The North East has the highest rates in the world of cancer of the oesophagus, but nine out of ten of us would not recognise the signs.

It is an illness that is most treatable when diagnosed early, especially in its pre-cancerous stage, so if you are suffering heartburn regularly - or any of the following symptoms - a trip to your GP may be in order.

  • Heartburn most days for three weeks or more
  • Food sticking when you swallow
  • Indigestion on and off for three weeks or more
  • Losing weight for no obvious reason
  • Trapped wind and frequent burping
  • Feeling very full very quickly
  • Feeling bloated after eating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach pain

How common is cancer of the oesophagus?

About 750 people are diagnosed in the North East of England each year with cancer of the oesophagus or stomach, and about 600 people die every year.

Around 95% of those diagnosed are people over 60, most commonly men, and the illness is associated with obesity and with eating high levels of refined fats, found in junk food, which is why the rates in the North East are particularly high.