Action is needed to fight a “quiet epidemic” of oesophageal cancer, which is on the rise in the UK, particularly among men, cancer experts say.
Men are almost three times more likely than women to get the cancer – one of the biggest gender divides in cancer rates, according to new figures.
Early diagnosis is the key to saving lives, says a Cancer Research UK team.
Scientists are working on ways to detect symptoms earlier and to decipher the genetic code of the cancer.
Oesophageal cancer – cancer of the gullet or food pipe – is the ninth most common cancer in the UK.
It is one of the most difficult cancers to detect and treat, with only about one in 10 patients surviving for 10 years or more.
Food getting stuck when you swallow and persistent heart burn are not normal”
Tim UnderwoodOesophageal cancer
Latest figures show 5,600 UK men (almost 15 out of every 100,000) developed the disease in 2010, compared with 2,800 UK women (about five out of every 100,000).
This equates to a lifetime risk of one in 56 for men and one in 110 for women.
There are two types of oesophageal cancer:
- squamous cell carcinoma – linked to smoking, drinking and a low fruit intake
- adenocarcinoma – linked to obesity, smoking and persistent acid reflux
Researchers believe a steady rise in the number of adenocarcinomas in men is behind the gender gap.
Tim Underwood, an oesophageal