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Cancer: The common health complaint that can signal youre at risk of the deadly disease

GMB: Expert warns of cancer 'whirlwind' in the UK

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Acid reflux is among the most common complaints in adults, with growing obesity rates one of the driving forces behind the condition’s prevalence. As excess belly fat puts pressure on the stomach, this causes a backflow of acid or hormonal changes. The condition features a burning pain, known as heartburn, in the lower chest area. While the condition remains largely benign, in some instances, it may signal life-threatening oesophageal cancer.

Chronic acid reflux, referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), triggers a long chain of events.

During acid reflux, small amounts of stomach contents reserve course and back up into the oesophagus.

It occurs when the sphincter muscle and the lower end of the oesophagus relaxes at the wrong time, allowing stomach acid to back up into the oesophagus.

When this acid starts stripping away the lining of the oesophagus, abnormal cells develop in the oesophageal tissue and turn into a condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus.

Doctor Deepa Shah, a gastroenterology specialist at HonorHealth, explained: “With Barrett’s oesophagus, the key is to catch it early and prevent it from turning into dysplasia or cancer.”

“The good news is that we have a lot of therapies available now.

“These have decreased the risk of oesophageal cancer and that is an exciting development among gastroenterologists.”

Symptoms include:

  • A burning sensation in the chest, usually after eating, which might be worse at night
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of food or sour liquid
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat.

Risks Acid reflux can cause considerable discomfort, but when it persists, it can increase the risk of developing a deadly oesophageal cancer.

When heartburn becomes frequent, the body responds by attempting to heal the damage by replacing the oesophagus’ lining with tissue very similar to the small intestine.


The NHS lists some of the main causes of the condition, which are best avoid:

  • Coffee, alcohol, tomatoes, chocolate and fatty or spicy foods
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress

The UK has the highest incidences of oesophageal cancer in the world; at a rate of 7.2 per 100,000 in men and 2.5 per 100,000 in women.

There are around 7,900 oesophageal cancer deaths in the UK each year, making it the 7th most common cause of cancer death in the UK.

Oesophageal cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death, while for women it is the seventh most common cause of death.

According to Heartburn Cancer UK, early symptoms of the killer disease include:

Worsening or persistent indigestion or heartburn
Difficulty swallowing
Weight loss without trying
Chest pain, pressure or burning
Coughing or hoarseness

While 45 percent of all sufferers will survive for one year, in England, only 15 percent will make it past five years.

This is mainly due to the fact that the disease is incurable in a large number of cases.

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