Publish date: 20 February 2024

In the UK around 9,000 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer which is one of the six less survivable cancers – with an average five-year survival rate of just 16%.

Described by the charity Heartburn Cancer UK as the ‘killer hiding in plain sight’ oesophagus cancer is the seventh most common killer for men.

There is a general lack of awareness of the main symptoms of oesophageal cancer, with some people self-medicating for long periods – with over the counter and off the shelf indigestion and heartburn treatments.

The oesophagus, also called the gullet, is the tube that runs from the mouth to the stomach and is part of the digestive system. Cancer can develop anywhere in the oesophagus.

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Indigestion or heartburn that does not go away
  • Pain in your throat or behind your breastbone

Some of the main risk factors include:

  • Long-term acid reflux
  • Obesity
  • Gender
  • Age

For more help and support call the Macmillan Support Line for free on 0800 808 0000, open 7 days a week 8am to 8pm. Or email the Macmillan Support Line.