In the Papers
This page carries a mixture of recent stories from the popular press and from more 
specialised news media.

Dolly had began struggling with eating anything other than soft foods and according to the National Enquirer, could only eat soft food. This prompted the singer to research what her condition could be and feared it might be cancer.

Dolly chose to undergo preventative surgery to eliminate the risk of developing cancer in the future. Dolly believed she was at risk of developing oesophageal cancer.

The singer researched the condition and knew that without the surgery and treatment, developing the cancer was a reality for her. (Brinkwire)

Professor Madhusudan, professor of medical oncology and head of oncology service at Nottingham University Hospitals, said: "Oesophageal cancer is a type of cancer affecting the oesophagus, the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

"The cancer is challenging as it does not usually cause any symptoms in the early stages when the tumour is small.

"It's only when it gets bigger that symptoms tend to develop. It can then be treated with chemotherapy to kill the cancerous cells and shrink the tumour followed by surgery to remove residual tumour.

"Unfortunately, if oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, a cure may not be achievable."

(Daily Mirror)

"Currently, diagnosis of Barrett’s oesophagus relies on endoscopy – an expensive and invasive technique. Now researchers said they have developed an “electronic nose” that can distinguish between patients with and without Barrett’s oesophagus just by analysing their breath. The team said they hope the non-invasive approach could increase take-up of screening among those at risk of the condition – and hence reduce the number of cases of oesophageal cancer." (Guardian)

4 February 2020 Belfast oncologist reveals how immunotherapy can successfully tackle pancreatic and oesophageal cancers
Dr Richard Turkington’s research could lead to new treatments for pancreatic and oesophageal cancers.
The new research project will study pancreatic and oesophageal cancers, which at present have extremely low survival rates. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer in Northern Ireland is 4.9% and for oesophageal cancer it's 18.6%. (Belfast Telegraph)

Dr Richard Turkington, oncologist and cancer researcher at Queen's, who is leading the research, said the "pioneering" new project aims to determine how immunotherapy can successfully treat pancreatic and oesophageal cancers.

[These] are two cancers which at present are hard to treat and have very low survival rates," he said.

Immunotherapy works by overcoming cancer cells' ability to hide from the body's immune system. It allows a patient's immune defences to identify and destroy cancer cells, but does not always work for everyone. (BBC News)

Heartburn is often thought to be just a nasty pain in the chest and throat that can be treated with over-the-counter remedies — but it can be a sign of a hidden killer. As a result of the ring of muscles above the stomach becoming weakened, acid can rise into the oesophagus, or food pipe, inflaming and eroding its lining. This may lead to Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition in which cells lining the oesophagus are replaced by abnormal precancerous ones. Even worse, this can develop into cancer of the oesophagus, the fourth most common cause of cancer death in British men and the fastest-rising cancer in the developed world.  (The Times)

Dr Jason Dunn from St Thomas's describes his trials for treatment of Inlet Patch on BBC's One Show.
Watch from 05:00 to 09:30 for introduction to the initial trials of ablation to Inlet Patch and from 37:00 to 46:00 to see the results.

3 January 2020 
What's the Link Between Acid Reflux and Kidney Disease?
"many people with kidney disease have other factors that may increase their chances of having acid reflux"
"More episodes of chronic kidney disease were noted in populations of patients taking PPIs than those that did not (take them), but a direct causal relationship of PPIs and chronic kidney disease is lacking,"        
(US News)

19 December 2019 
Heartburn symptoms: Six signs of heartburn and acid reflux - what are the causes?

A pharmacist will also be able to advise how best to treat heartburn.

You should see a GP if these lifestyle changes and pharmacy medicines aren’t helping, or if you have heartburn most days for three weeks or more, as this could be a sign of something more serious.

Also see your GP if you experience other symptoms like food getting stuck in your throat, frequently being sick or losing weight for no reason.                                                                     (Daily Express)    

Lynn had been having trouble swallowing food in January but was not diagnosed with oesophageal cancer until June. She died five months later on November 10.

Tash, 43, is now raising awareness of the cancer and its symptoms. She said: “She mentioned to me in early January she felt something was getting stuck in her windpipe when she ate."

(Essex County Standard and Daily Gazette)

11 November 2019 Cancer patients with the six deadliest forms of the disease are being 'neglected' due to lack of research funding, according to new report 
  • Patients with deadliest cancer form are being ‘neglected’ due to lack of research
  • Pancreatic, liver, brain, lung, oesophageal and stomach cancer survival is 14%
  • Deadliest forms of the disease account for half of all common cancer deaths
  • Few treatment options for those with the least survivable cancers on the NHS
(Daily Mail)

Zantac OTC and similar medications were pulled from shelves in September after the FDA released a statement saying the drug contained low levels of NDMA, a substance classified as a probable human carcinogen.

The FDA said on Friday its testing revealed the medication does not form the impurity in the digestive system after all, saying the amount of NDMA is similar to those in grilled or smoked meats.

(WIZ news (CNN))

28 October 2019 What We Know about the Possible Carcinogen Found in Zantac

"French drugmaker Sanofi recently announced a recall of over-the-counter Zantac, the widely used acid reflux medication, in the U.S. and Canada over concerns of possible contamination from a probable carcinogen. This action followed recalls by manufacturers and retailers of generic versions of the drug, called ranitidine. The recalls have prompted questions about whether the drugs’ levels of a chemical called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)—which has been linked to cancer in animals—pose a more serious health risk than initially reported." (Scientific American)

22 October 2019 Years of hiccups and heartburn could lead to cancer by exposing cells into the gullet to stomach acid, doctors warn

After 20 years of annoying but seemingly harmless hiccups, burping and heartburn, Peter Denson was shocked to be diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.

The cancer had developed from a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s oesophagus, where cells in the lining of the oesophagus (or gullet) start to behave abnormally after being damaged by stomach acid.

Peter’s cancer was diagnosed early and he was able to have the tumour removed via an endoscopic mucosal resection, in which an endoscope — a long, flexible tube — is inserted down the throat, along with a camera and tools to remove the abnormal cells.

He then had a treatment called Halo, where any remaining abnormal cells are burned away. (Daily Mail)

We eat millions of indigestion tablets every year, which would be perfectly safe if we took them correctly. But we don’t.

In fact, according to US research, the majority of people with recurring heartburn don’t seek medical advice at all, instead self-treating the symptoms for years                                              (The Guardian)

Principal investigator Dr Margaret Dunne said: "Oesophageal cancer rates are rising in Ireland, and improved treatment strategies are urgently needed.

"By revealing how lesser-studied immune cells work in cancer, we can better understand the shortcomings of current immunotherapies and investigate new ways to boost the anti-cancer immune response."    (Irish Independent)

"Determined not to succumb to the life threatening disease, Steve and his wife Zoe moved from Darwin to Mandurah in Western Australia - a 44 hour car drive - to start chemotherapy."

"It took five rounds of treatment before Steve could be flown to Brisbane for a full esophagectomy surgery - a chance for specialists to remove the tumour completely, his GoFundMe page read." 

"In June Steve arrived alone in Los Angeles at the City of Hope, looking to undergo a clinical trial that might give him more time."                                                 (Daily Mail)

2 July 2019
 Heartburn sufferer says clinical trial 'saved his life'

A cytsponge success story:

“I got a letter through the post from my GP practice telling me about the study about three months ago. I’d taken part in another research study before and so I thought I’d give this one a go as it could help others in the future. We never dreamed for a minute that the test would show anything was wrong with me. I had no reason whatsoever to believe anything was wrong with me. I’m pretty active and do a lot physically. It never occurred to us that I could have cancer. My sole reason in doing the study was to help others.” (Devon Live)

18 June 2019 

The lifesaving treatment available in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland but not Wales (Wales online)

Barrett's Wales member, David Evans's story about lack of RFA in Wales.
"In patients found to have abnormal cells experts say the most effective form of treatment is RFA which removes the Barrett's before cancer can develop. Unlike the rest of the UK the procedure is not carried out anywhere in Wales meaning patients have to travel into England to receive it."

"The surgery involved removing part of her oesophagus and a cancerous tumour within it, reconstructing her stomach to form a “new” oesophagus and reattaching it to the upper part of her chest.

The operation, which is only suitable for about one in three people who have oesophageal cancer, was carried out at the University of Southampton by Professor Tim Underwood."                              (ITV News)

14 May 2019 BBC TV Drama series, Holby City included a story of a young man having a fundoplication to stop his acid reflux.
(Interestingly, it was in Wyvern wing of the fictional hospital. The Wyvern is the name of the mythical creature on our Wessex flag.)

13 May 2019 BBC2 documentary, Surgeons at the Edge of Life, showed an oesophagectomy carried out by Ewen Griffiths at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

13 April 2019 

From Western Mail.
(Click on image to enlarge article.)

 "In the Assembly, Dai Lloyd AM has voiced concerns about Barrett’s oesophagus patients having to make trips to England for monitoring and treatments.”

Any heartburn can be treated with acid suppressants. Typically, this will be a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) — such as omeprazole or lansoprazole — which cuts acid production in the stomach.

However, this will do little for the recurrent regurgitation that you are experiencing.

In my view, surgery is an attractive option, when compared with a lifelong prescription of medication. (Daily Mail)

[Alan Moss, chairman of Action Against Heartburntold us: “I want to draw attention to the risks of putting up with persistent heartburn rather than going to their GP to discuss the underlying causes of acid reflux, the cause of heartburn.”
Jason Dunn, a gastroenterologist at St Thomas’ hospital who deals with many of the cases referred from this area, backs Mr Moss.
“If we catch it at an early stage we can treat it with a good chance of a cure, but unfortunately it is often too late because they have been suffering heartburn or other digestive problems for months or perhaps years, and have not gone to their GP."  (Bromley Times)

People who drink hot tea at 60°C or higher saw their risk rise by 90 per cent
The largest study of its kind followed 50,000 people over around a decade
People in the UK and US typically drink beverages below 60°C
Scalding water may damage the lining of the food pipe, causing tumours"
(N.B. This relates to Sqaumous Cell Carcinoma rather than adencarcinoma)

(Story from Daily Mail, also covered in other news media today, refers to this research:

"Reflux is not caused by too much acid in the body, but by the valve called the lower oesophageal sphincter, at the bottom of the food pipe, not working properly,” says Nicholas Boyle, gastro-intestinal surgeon at the Lister Hospital in Chelsea, west London. “It means that acids head in the wrong direction and back up towards the throat.” (The Times)

"Up to 350 patients with early-stage oesophageal cancer have been cured and spared major surgery over the past decade thanks to new treatment methods, new data reveals.

"More than 5,000 patients have so far been registered on Ireland’s first registry for Barrett’s Oesophagus, of whom 254 had or developed early cancer that would in the past have required major surgery, the data from the registry shows. 

"Many of those on the register were treated with radio frequency ablation therapy, administered via an endoscope, sometimes in association with minimally invasive surgery. This new therapy has revolutionised care for those whose cancer was diagnosed at the earliest stage." (Irish Times)

"I cuddled my newlywed husband’s body all night after he died of cancer as I couldn’t face saying goodbye.

"Lisa Barton, from 38, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, thought partner Wayne, 36, was suffering from acid reflux but it tragically turned out to be oesophageal cancer."
(The Sun)

"Over the next six years, Dr Coleman will analyse data from around 20,000 patients with Barrett's oesophagus [a risk factor in developing oesophageal cancer], and over 3,000 oesophageal cancer patients."
(Belfast Telegraph)

4 February 2019 'I was lucky cancer had not spread to my stomach' "Although my cancer diagnosis was a big shock I feel fortunate that it hadn't spread into my stomach, so I know I did the right thing by acting quickly when I noticed changes in my swallowing, and would encourage others to do the same." (Belfast Telegraph)

4 February 2019 Dad-of-two dies after being told that throat cancer 'was probably just anxiety'   "The 35-year-old from Scotland was advised his symptoms were most likely caused by reflux and anxiety, reports the Scotsman, despite his family having a history of throat cancer. Ryan's sister Kerry, 33, said her brother took this diagnosis at face value "because the general advice was that oesophageal cancer only really affected older people". (Daily Mirror)[Another case where oesophageal cancer incorrectly termed throat cancer in the press and a story highlighting the failure of diagnoses based on statistics.]

1 February 2019 Jeremy Hardy: Comedian and Radio 4 panel star dies aged 57 [of oesophageal cancer]

"In a statement, Hardy's publicist said he died early on Friday and was with his wife and daughter when he died." (BBC)

16 January 2019 
Gerard Basset (1957-2019): ‘He changed the game for sommeliers in the UK…
The wine world and the UK on-trade in particular are in mourning following the announcement of the death of Gerard Basset MS MW MBA OBE.
The godfather of British sommeliers passed away at home yesterday after a 15-month battle with oesophageal cancer.                                         (  

3 January 2019 

'Revolutionary' breath test to detect cancer trial begins. (ITV News)

"Breath samples from people will be collected in the clinical trial to see if odorous molecules called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be detected"
"The researchers in the trial will collect samples from 1,500 people, including healthy people as trial controls, to analyse VOCs in the breath to see if they can detect signals of different cancer types. The clinical trial will start with patients with suspected oesophageal and stomach cancers and then expand to prostate, kidney, bladder, liver and pancreatic cancers in the coming months." (Cancer Research UK)

"Antacids are medicines that neutralise the acid in the stomach and can quickly relieve heartburn and acid reflux for a few hours.

However, antacids don’t treat the underlying cause and long-term use isn’t recommended, so speak to you GP if you find you need to take antacids regularly."                                      (Daily Express)

21 December 2018 Clinical trial found my cancer and saved my life - retired Cambridge scientist

"Liz Chipchase feels “incredibly lucky” to be spending Christmas with her family after a clinical trial saved her life.
"The retired scientist, from Cambridge, felt fit and healthy when she signed up for the trial only for doctors to find a cancerous tumour growing in her throat." 
"The 70-year-old, who had a history of indigestion and acid reflux, was contacted by her GP practice about the clinical trial, called BEST3, which is studying the effectiveness of the Cytosponge." (Cambridge Independent)

"Eating smaller, more frequent meals could help, as could losing weight if you are overweight and sleeping with your chest and head above waist level." (Daily Express)

"Described as a burning feeling in the chest, it's caused by our stomach acid travelling up the throat. The resulting pain can be so severe that it can be confused for a heart attack. This nasty acid reflux can also leave an unpleasant taste and smell in the mouth as well as make the person cough, hiccup and feel bloated and sick. These symptoms are not a recipe for festive fun.

"There are lots of bits of advice that can be followed to alleviate this incredibly irritating issue. However, some solutions such as weight loss are perhaps not the most festive-friendly options. So here are my 10 top tips for tackling the issue of heartburn. Some tips are based on research, while others are obtained from my clinic practice."

Orla Walsh writing in the Irish Independent

It might seem like a minor discomfort, but the truth is that long-term suffering in silence can cause cancer.

"If you have heartburn for a prolonged period, the exposure to the stomach acid can start to change the cells lining the oesophagus," explains Alan Moss, chairman of Action Against Heartburn.

"You can develop a condition called Barrett’s Oesophagus where cells start to mutate and can become cancerous."                                                                                                                     (Daily Mirror)

21 October 2018 Help Raise Cancer Survival Rates 

"Currently, the combined five-year survival for people diagnosed with the less survivable cancers - brain, liver, lung, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancer - stands at just 14%. This can and should be improved.

LTSC letter from MPs in the Sunday Times.

"Many people assume that heartburn is caused by an excess of stomach acid, but this is pretty rare. More likely, it’s down to a faulty valve at the top of the stomach. When operating normally, the valve prevents the acid leaking upwards from the stomach, but if the valve is too weak this can lead to acid coming up into, or ‘refluxing’ into, the oesophagus which in turn can cause the symptoms of heartburn.

"While people often blame spicy foods, these don’t actually cause heartburn, although they can aggravate the symptoms. Fatty foods are more likely to lead to an attack as they sit in the stomach for longer and increase the chances of acid spilling into the oesophagus."

(BBC2 TV, "Trust me I'm a doctor")

"A coalition of six cancer charities [including the consortium AAH of which BW are a part] has called on NHS England to commit to increasing survival of patients with the deadliest forms of cancers. The coalition—the Less Survivable Cancer Taskforce—is calling for a doubling of 5-year survival for patients with brain, lung, stomach, oesophageal, liver, and pancreatic cancers by 2029, citing unacceptably low survival and insufficient government action and investment."
(The Lancet - Gastroenterology & Hepatology)

"The researchers also hope that it may shed light on other common esophageal problems, including Barrett's metaplasia, a risk factor for esophageal cancer. 

A lot of time can pass between the discovery of Barrett's cells in the esophagus and the development of cancer, however, and doctors don't have a good consistent way of working out what will happen for each individual patient. " *Daily Mail)

17 September 2018 We need to drive up survival rates for the most aggressive cancers "Last week saw the launch of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT), which comprises six charities – Action Against Heartburn, the Brain Tumour Charity, the British Liver Trust, Guts UK, Pancreatic Cancer UK and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation." (Daily Telegraph)

Bride watched groom die just 13
hours after tying theknot from the cancer he was diagnosed with SIX DAYS before ceremony 

He had earlier been complaining about bad indigestion and prescribed the drug omeprazole to treat stomach ulcers.

Michelle called an ambulance and Scott, 41, was admitted to hospital on early in the morning on Friday, August 10.

The next day an endoscopy revealed his condition was much more serious than his initial diagnosis.

By Monday, tests confirmed the couple's worst fears. (The Sun)

From America:

The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy has launched a campaign to raise public awareness about the link between chronic heartburn and esophageal cancer.

Advertisements encouraging the public to visit for more information have been on display at the Dulles and Reagan National airports, outside Washington, DC, and on Amtrak Acela trains. (Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News)

"MILLIONS of fans believe country music legend Johnny Cash died of a broken heart just four months after the death of his beloved wife June. But a pathologist now believes the real cause of death was heartburn."

(Sunday Express) 

"Researchers determined that a high dose of acid suppressant was superior to a low dose, and that taking aspirin with the high dose proton pump inhibitors showed a 20% overall risk reduction."

(From The Guardian but reported in other papers, result of AspECT trial reported in the Research pages.)

Kevin discovers if the millions of people prescribed a common heartburn medication - himself included - could be risking serious side effects. He puts his stomach through a test to discover the truth.
Relevant sections are 2min 30 secs to 13min 30 secs and 36min to 42min 30 secs in the programme.
(BBC 1)

17 February 2018 Gerard Basset and wife Nina turning Hotel TerraVina into boutique B&B
"Gerard, 60, who was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus last year, has just had a major operation that will leave him unable to eat properly for at least a year."
He underwent surgery with Jamie Kelly at the beginning of February.
Nina said: "Gerard is recovering quite well. Some days are better than others and he's in a lot of pain but being brave.                                   (Daily Echo)

STOP PRESS. We are delighted Hotel TerraNova have chosen Barrett's Wessex as one of their charities for fundraising activities in 2018. We wish Gerard all the very best for a full recovery.

"People who drink hot tea are at greater risk of developing oesophageal cancer when combined with smoking and alcohol, a study has discovered." (The Independent)
(A link to the study may be found on our News/Research page.)

"EXERCISE, and the resulting weight loss, can be a good way to help prevent gastrointestinal issues. But, for some people, certain forms of exercise can have an unpleasant side effect - heartburn." (Daily Express)

"Difficulty swallowing could be a sign of oesophageal cancer, and mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s, according to the NHS.

"The cancer doesn’t usually show any symptoms at the beginning, when the tumour is small, but it can lead to difficulty swallowing - otherwise known as dysphagia - heartburn, and weight loss.

"You should see your GP if you’re struggling to swallow properly, said the NHS." (Daily Express)

Acid reflux raises the risk of cancer of the throat, tonsils and sinuses in older people, a study has found.

The condition was linked to a 2 to 3 percent greater chance of developing these potentially deadly diseases.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the esophagus, the tube connecting your mouth and stomach.

The researchers of the current study argue the results suggest elderly people suffering with the condition should be carefully screened for head and neck cancers.

(Daily Mail) 

"● Heartburn might be worse at night because gravity enables the acid to flow towards your throat. Sleep with your head propped up on pillows, or tuck a pillow under the mattress, or blocks under the bed head.
● Get moving after a meal. Stand up and do the dishes, or take a light walk – anything to kick your digestive system into gear. The longer you sit, the longer it takes your body to digest, meaning a heartburn attack is more likely.
● Stock up on heartburn remedies before Christmas Day. Over-the-counter treatments can often help, but don’t rely on these month after month without seeing your GP to get checked out."

Great article in Daily Mirror quoting Alan Moss, chairman of Action Against Heartburn.

1 December 2017

Gerard Basset, 60, co-founded the highly-successful Hotel du Vin group and now runs the award-winning Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest with his wife Nina.

But he is currently absent from the business after being diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.

His illness is another devastating blow to his wife, whose mother Jean, 69, is also battling an aggressive form of the disease.

Gerard is currently receiving treatment at Southampton General Hospital and the Spire hospital in the city and is faces a major operation early next year.                  (Daily Echo)