In the Papers
This page carries a mixture of recent stories from the popular press and from more specialised news media.
'Pill on a string' detects early cancer
Thanks to Steve Hewlett, there is more awareness of how hard it can be to diagnose oesophageal cancer early enough.
For some patients, by the time doctors know what's what, it is too late to do anything meaningful.
Rebecca Fitzgerald, professor of Cancer Prevention at Cambridge University, explained that one of the latest devices to detect early symptoms of oesophageal cancer is the Cytosponge. (Radio 4 PM)
28 February 2017 Why middle aged men should NEVER dismiss heartburn.
Meanwhile, even though Professor Lovat says chronic heartburn is 'very common and the vast majority of people with it won't get cancer', he adds: 'It's still important to get it checked out. (Daily Mail)
24 February 2017 "I didn't know how to say Goodbye" Nick Robinson's tribute poem to Steve Hewlett (Daily Telegraph).
20 February 2017 'I've had a niggling cough for 20 years. Could it be acid reflux?'
But over the past decade it's emerged that acid reflux can contribute to a number of symptoms and problems.
These include tooth erosion, chronic rhinitis (inflammation of the nose, causing it to become blocked or runny) and in children even glue ear, because refluxed acid can potentially reach into all these areas.
Another serious problem is Barrett's oesophagus, where acid causes the cells lining the gullet to become like the cells lining the stomach.
20 February 2017 Steve Hewlett: Radio 4 presenter dies at the age of 58
Hewlett died on Monday morning while listening to Bob Dylan with his family at the Royal Marsden Hospital in west London.
Nick Robinson, Radio 4's Today presenter who was treated for cancer in 2015, wrote a poem tribute to his friend and colleague on his Facebook page.
"I visited him in hospital a few days ago and wrote this knowing that I would almost certainly never see him again," he said in the post. Here is an extract:
"You know, I know, anyone who has faced it knows differently. Cancer is not a battle. There is no choice whether to fight let alone whether to win or lose.
"No amount of courage no measure of cowardice can decide the outcome. There is no virtue in survival. Certainly no lack of it in death.
"I lived. You now know that you will not. Luck. Chance. Fate. Nothing more. Nothing less." (BBC News)
13 February 2017 Oh, the tyranny of being put on a total detox by Google!
He only had heartburn. by Gyles Brandreth
"What started with a touch of heartburn ended up changing my life. And in between, let me tell you, it’s been a living hell.
Three weeks last Saturday, after a happy sandwich lunch with my lovely wife of 44 years, I thought an afternoon nap might be nice.
I settled back on the bed and closed my eyes. Just a few minutes later they were wide open again and I was calling out to Mrs B: ‘I think I’m having a heart attack.’ (Daily Mail)
"unfortunately, people are often presenting late because they - or their GPs - aren't aware of the
"We have the highest rates of oesophageal adenocarcinoma [the most common form of the disease] in the world," says specialist surgeon Tim Underwood, MRC clinician scientist and senior lecturer at University of Southampton. "It tends to present late, and spread early. So two-thirds of the patients we see have already got cancer that's spread; that's the reason it's so difficult to treat." (BT)
6 February 2017 Steve Hewlett marries as cancer treatment halted
"Radio 4's Steve Hewlett has married his partner in hospital after being told his cancer treatment could not continue.
"His consultant had helped arrange the quickie wedding after telling him he had "weeks, possibly months" to live." (BBC)
6 February 2017 Chas and Dave star diagnosed with cancer
1 February 2017 She's been a cancer nurse for 15 years, but Maggie knows just what it's like to be a patient "Maggie [a nurse at Southampton General Hospital] was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, the sixth most common form of the disease in the UK, which claims around 21 lives every day." (Southern Daily Echo)
30 January 2017 Breath test shows potential for detecting cancer
"The breath test was able to correctly indicate cancer in around 80% of patients who had cancer, and similarly able to correctly exclude cancer in around 80% who did not have cancer."
(From NHS Choices but covered in many papers. Also see this on our research news page.)
19 January 2017 Heartburn and nausea? Symptoms could be a warning sign of THIS
dangerous stomach condition.
"Heartburn, also known as indigestion, can be triggered by eating too much food, or as a result of GORD - gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.
24 December 2016 Acid reflux symptoms: GP reveals the food which will give YOU heartburn
"Dr Roger Henderson, media medic and GP said eating more food than people normally would is the first reason people experience heartburn."
(though he went on to propagate the common myths about acidic foods and spices). (Daily Express)
"Reflux occurs when your stomach contents, including acid and bile, travel back up into the oesophagus.
"If you have reflux that goes on for more than three weeks, Dr Gordon recommends visiting your GP to investigate what effect the reflux is having on the oesophagus." (Blackmore Vale Magazine)
The acid reflux reportedly affected the throat of Niall Horan but the One Direction singer is not suffering from a throat cancer at all. Fans of the former One Direction bandmate of Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne are also worried about the extreme weight loss. (Game N Guide)
21 November 2016 Oesophageal cancer: diagnosis and management
"Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, five-year survival rates for all patients
diagnosed with oesophageal cancer ranges from 15–20%. In this article the authors discuss current diagnosis and management." (Trends in Men's Health - featuring Phil Coverdale's story - Chair of OPA SPLASH)
14 November 2016 New Test Could Find Cancer Earlier
"In this blood test we don't measure the presence of cancer, we measure the presence of mutated red blood cells which are the collateral damage that occurs -- a by-product of the cancer developing. ... The researchers tested blood from about 300 people, all of whom have cancer of the esophagus. Patients with esophageal cancer have high levels of mutated red blood cells. " (Voice Of America)
8 November 2016 When your acid reflux could be a sign of something much more
The treatment was a success and Brian now returns to hospital every 12 months for a check-up endoscopy.
However, for his younger brother Colin, a mechanical engineer who had similar heartburn problems, it was sadly a very different story. (Daily Mail)
31 October 2016
a small proportion of people who suffer with the condition could be at risk of developing oesophageal cancer - and explains why the NHS recommends chronic heartburn should be checked by a GP. (Daily Express)
25 October 2016
'Whydo I have erectile dysfunction?' A reader asks our experts for adviceabout his impotence - which started after taking acid reflux pills.16 October 2016
I believe you are more concerned than you need be about the risks of this drug when set against its benefits.
It would be better to focus on the other, known risk factors for arterial disease and try to minimise those where possible. (Daily Mail)
The broadcaster tells his story in today's Guardian.
BBC journalist, Steve Hewlett, reveals being diagnosed with Oesophageal Cancer.
Listen to his story in this clip from Radio 4's PM programme.
Hillary Clinton has been struck by coughing attacks, leading to a resurfacing of speculation about her health. She has blamed the cough on allergies, but there are many reasons for coughing spells.
3. Acid Reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, chest pain, wheezing and shortness of breath. Irritation caused by these symptoms can result in cough. (Newsmax)
But it could be 10 years before the test is available.
The former Smiths frontman, who revealed in 2014 he had received treatment for oesophageal cancer, has opened up about his health once again, suggesting it aged him and slowed him down. (RadioX)