Irish oesophageal cancer rates remain among the highest in Europe

Lollipop Day, Ireland’s only fundraising and awareness campaign for oesophageal cancer, will run across the country this weekend.

Irish oesophageal cancer rates remain among the highest in Europe, with a continued recent rise in incidence, particularly in men. Oesophageal Cancer Fund is asking people to buy a lollipop for €2 from volunteers nationwide during Lollipop Day, which takes place on Friday and Saturday, to show support and help fund research into oesophageal cancer.

Oesophageal cancer starts in the oesophagus, also sometimes called the gullet. The oesophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Symptoms include (infographic in the attached ):

Difficulty when swallowing food.

Frequent and persistent hiccups.

Acid indigestion, heartburn reflux.

Constant burping, belching, coughing.

Pain between the shoulder blades.

Weight loss.

“Oesophageal cancer is a difficult cancer to treat," said Prof John Reynolds of St James’s Hospital, head of the Barrett’s Oesophagus Register project. "But like all cancer the earlier it is caught the easier it is to cure, and prevention and early diagnosis are our best strategies for the future. A greater awareness of risk factors, including Barrett’s oesophagus, as well as improved quality of all aspects of treatment are elements underpinning advances in care and outcomes.”

The aim of the campaign is to increase public awareness of the symptoms of oesophageal cancer and to highlight how the cancer can be prevented or diagnosed early to improve cure rates. The OCF is calling on the public to buy a lollipop for €2 and to be aware of the symptoms which are sometimes mistaken for conditions like heartburn or acid reflux.

“Since the OCF began this campaign 17 years ago, we have seen an increased awareness among Irish people of oesophageal cancer," said Noelle Ryan, CEO of Oesophageal Cancer Fund. "Volunteers will be taking to the streets right across the country on Friday and Saturday. We are calling on people to support Lollipop Day, by purchasing a lollipop and urging those experiencing swallowing difficulties; those who suffer with chronic or severe persistent reflux symptoms such as heartburn to attend their GP for advice.”

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