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Oesophageal Cancer: an update for primary care

I was invited to Huddersfield by the Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Clinical Network to give an update on oesophageal cancer and Barrett’s oesophagus to primary care cancer leads. A number of key points emerged. Even though the incidence of oesophageal cancer is increasing in the UK especially in male patients, overall survival is increasing. Five-year survival from cases that have been operated on in Leeds is around 40-50%.

It is very important for patients with Barrett’s oesophagus to have 2 yearly endoscopy and for those with dysplasia (where the oesophageal lining has started to become unstable), endoscopic surveillance is done by a specialist and more definitive treatment such as radio frequency ablation is considered. Patients with oesophageal cancer too advanced for surgery can be offered palliative anti-cancer treatment such as chemotherapy (medical treatment) and/or radiotherapy (radiation treatment) in addition to an oesophageal stent (a tube that is inserted that opens up the gullet to allow improved swallowing).