Early oesophageal cancer diagnosis boosting survival rates
More patients with oesophageal cancer are being treated early in this country, which is increasing their chances of survival.
However, rates of the illness continue to be high in Ireland, striking down 450 new patients annually.
Oesophageal cancer affects the gullet, which is the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.
The Oesophageal Cancer Fund is calling on the public buy a €2 lollipop from volunteers this Friday and Saturday to show support and help finance research into this form of the disease.
The charity currently funds a registry of patients diagnosed with Barrett's oesophagus, which leaves a patient at increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer in the future. Barrett's oesophagus is due to repeated damage from stomach acid over many years, which can eventually cause changes in the cells lining the oesophagus.
The data of all 6,000 patients on the register since 2010 has been tracked.
Professor Jacintha O'Sullivan, principal investigator in the programme, said that thanks to the registry "we can now record data from every Barrett's patient on a national database and analyse this data to answer important clinical questions".
"Has there been any increase in incidence levels? How are treatment options changing? Discovering that you are in a high-risk category can empower people to take steps to adjust their diet and lifestyle, thus improving their chances of keeping cancer at bay."
Symptoms can include difficulty swallowing, persistent indigestion or heartburn, bringing up food soon after eating, loss of appetite and weight loss, or persistent vomiting.
Surgery is the main treatment. If diagnosed very early the tumour may be removed via an endoscope.