Highlighting disease may boost cancer diagnosis

Tim Underwood

Tim Underwood

First published in Readers' Letters
Last updated

THANK you for covering surgeon Tim Underwood’s report regarding the alarming increase of oesophageal cancer in this country: “Deaths from cancer of the gullet double in 40 years.”ÿ (Daily Echo, January 6).

He is doing great research work into this condition and, as covered in your paper, ran the New York Marathon to help fund the research. (“Southampton cancer surgeon’s marathon bid”ÿ Southern Daily Echo August, 27, 2013) Oesophageal cancer must be taken seriously. Its incidence is growing exponentially. It has doubled in 40 years and could double again in the next 20.

Southampton can rightly pride itself on being in the forefront of researching this condition.

At the same time Southampton is home to the largest patient support and education charity dedicated to preventing deaths to this horrible disease – Barrett’s Wessex.

As Tim says: “By the time I see [patients] it’s too late for treatment that could cure them.”

There is a clear possible progression from frequent heartburn through a condition known as Barrett’s Oesophagus and dysplasia to cancer.

If it is discovered early enough, it can be cured.

A couple of years ago Barrett’s Wessex bought a Barrx radio frequency ablation machine for Southampton General Hospital that cures dysplasia before it can progress to cancer.

Anyone concerned by acid reflux should see their doctor or talk to Barrett’s Wessex.

The charity hosts regular monthly drop-ins in Southampton and Bournemouth, runs an informative website, produces a regular newsletter and is contactable by phone, text and email.

Please check out the website BarrettsWessex.org.uk for more details.

The charity is currently raising funds for specialist diagnostic equipment: a fine bore endoscope that may be used when swallowing difficulties prohibit the use of regular equipment.

Chris Robinson, chairman, Barret’s Wessex.

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