Don’t ignore the burn: NHS launches new cancer awareness campaign in Greater Manchester

A new campaign is being launched by the NHS in Greater Manchester to raise awareness of the link between heartburn, indigestion and gullet cancer.

Heartburn – a burning sensation in the middle of your chest – and indigestion – a pain or discomfort in your tummy – might sometimes be shrugged off or put down to drinking too much alcohol or something they have eaten food. 

But the new NHS campaign wants to make it clear to the public—particularly those over 55—that if symptoms last for three weeks or more, it’s time to visit the doctor. 

It also draws attention to difficulty swallowing or food getting stuck as another potential symptom of gullet cancer that people – whatever their age – need to act on by going to their GP. 

The new campaign coincides with Men’s Health Week (10 to 16 June) and is particularly aimed at men aged 55 and over who are more likely to leave it longer before they go to their doctor. It is being run by the Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance – which is part of the NHS and plays a crucial role in improving people’s overall experience of getting diagnosed and treated for cancer. 

Heart for 3 weeks or more?  If over 55 it could be a sign of cancer and there's treatment available. NHS Oesophageal Cancer Campaign

Eye-catching posters will be displayed at prominent sites, including supermarkets and roadside locations in Greater Manchester, and adverts will be placed on pharmacy bags, on the radio, and online. 

Javed Sultan, a leading doctor specialising in gullet cancer from the NHS Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance, said: “This campaign is about getting people to visit their doctor with potential symptoms of gullet cancer earlier. The chances are it won’t be cancer, but we know the earlier cancer is caught the better the chances are for successful treatment.” 

Julie Thompson, Information Manager at Guts UK, said: “We encourage anyone who has been experiencing these symptoms for three weeks or more to visit their doctor. You know your body best and it’s always best to get such symptoms checked.”

David Jones-Stanley, from Wigan, who was diagnosed with gullet cancer, also known as oesophageal cancer in October 2021, has also helped work on the campaign. He said: “I know first-hand the importance of early detection and treatment. This campaign highlights the common symptoms of gullet cancer, and hopefully, it will empower people to seek medical advice sooner and improve outcomes.”

  • If you are over 55 and have heartburn or indigestion that lasts three weeks or more, then visit your doctor. 
  • If you have difficulty swallowing or feel like food is getting stuck, you should also visit your doctor. 

For more information about the signs and symptoms of gullet cancer, see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/oesophageal-cancer/symptoms/