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Public health

Public health campaign highlights heartburn link to cancer

People who experience heartburn each day for three consecutive weeks may be at risk of oesophageal or stomach cancer and should visit their GP, according to a new public health campaign in England launched on 26 January 2015.

The four-week campaign comes as a survey by Public Health England (PHE) revealed that only 55% of people would consider contacting their GP if they had persistent heartburn. And 59% of those questioned did not know that heartburn could be a symptom of oesophago-gastric cancers.

Each year, around 12,900 people in England are diagnosed with these types of cancers; those diagnosed at an early stage have a 67% five year-plus survival rate compared with 3% for those diagnosed at a late stage of the disease.

The campaign has the support of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. “Individuals with oesophageal or stomach cancer often self-medicate during the early stages of the disease, because they do not recognise their symptoms and have not yet sought advice from a health professional,” says RPS president Ash Soni. “We are in an ideal position to have open conversations with people who seek advice for common conditions like heartburn and encourage them to seek advice from their GP if symptoms persist.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20067699

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