Deadly cancer: 'Take action now', PM told

Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton has pressed the Prime Minister to do more to tackle Oesophageal Cancer, a disease which kills 21 people every day in the UK.

Mike_at_Southampton_Hospital.JPGOesophageal Cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect and treat, with only about one in 10 patients surviving for 10 years or more after their diagnosis. Mike Thornton (pictured) has in recent months visited Southampton Hospital’s specialist Cancer Unit at Somers Building to learn more about the research taking place there.

Poor awareness of symptoms, which can include persistent heartburn and difficulty swallowing, means that 1 in 5 patients are diagnosed in emergency situations, such as in A and E. 

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mike Thornton MP said: 

“Last year I met with surgeon Tim Underwood from the outstanding oesophageal cancer team at Southampton General. 

“He explained that Oesophageal cancer is one of the fastest rising cancers in the Western world, but also one of the hardest to treat. Surgery is gruelling and many people are unaware that persistent heartburn and difficulty swallowing can be symptoms of oesophageal cancer so are diagnosed at a late stage. 

“Will he commit to raising much needed awareness of this terrible disease and ensure that the NHS has the resources to diagnose it earlier?”

Prime Minister David Cameron MP replied: 

“My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise the issue of how we increase awareness of cancer, because that has an important effect in terms of early diagnosis. 

“NHS England is currently running a pilot in the north-east and north Cumbria to raise awareness about oesophageal and stomach cancers, as part of its Be Clear on Cancer campaign, and we are committing more than £450 million of additional funding to support this early diagnosis.

“The absolute key is making sure that more people have their cancer discovered from trips to the GP and from their own inspections and self-awareness, rather than finding out these things in an emergency, often when it is too late.”

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