'Peace of Mind' campaign

You might have seen our Peace of Mind campaign on social media, or heard us on the local radio. At the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Cancer Alliance, we are raising awareness of the early signs of cancer, and empowering people to see their GP without delay if they are experiencing these symptoms.

This ‘Peace of Mind’ approach shifts the focus from fearing the worst to understanding that seeing your GP promptly could provide information and answers that ease your worries. It assures people that even if the outcome is a cancer diagnosis, catching it early is better than waiting. Together, we're striving for peace of mind, knowing we're taking proactive steps to keep everyone healthy.

Read more about the Peace of Mind campaign here.

Oesophageal Cancer

Around 9,300 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in the UK each year. This makes oesophageal cancer the 14th most common cancer in adults*.

The oesophagus connects your mouth to your stomach. Oesophageal cancer is a cancer that's found anywhere in the oesophagus, sometimes called the gullet or food pipe.

The wall of the oesophagus has several layers of tissue. These include the inner layer (mucosa), muscle, and connective tissue. Oesophageal cancer starts in the inner lining of the oesophagus and can spread outward through the other layers. How serious oesophageal cancer is depends on where it is in the oesophagus, how big it is, if it has spread and your general health.

More details on oesophageal cancer can be found below.

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer

There are many possible symptoms of oesophageal cancer, but they might be hard to spot.

They can affect your digestion, such as:


Other symptoms include:

  • a cough that is not getting better
  • a hoarse voice
  • loss of appetite or losing weight without trying to
  • feeling tired or having no energy
  • pain in your throat or the middle of your chest, especially when swallowing
  • black poo or coughing up blood (although these are uncommon)


If you have another condition, such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, you may get symptoms like these regularly.

You might find you get used to them. But it's important to be checked by a GP if your symptoms change, get worse, or do not feel normal for you.

Many of the early signs and symptoms of oesophageal cancer are common, and so may be caused by other conditions. For this reason, oesophageal cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage.

This campaign seeks to normalise people going to their GP if they notice anything unusual to them for a ‘Peace of Mind’ check.

If it is cancer, discovering it early, when it isn’t too large and hasn’t spread, improves the chances of successful treatment - finding cancer early helps save lives.

Making an appointment with your GP

If you are experience any of the following symptoms, or notice anything unusual for you please do not hesitate to see your GP or practice nurse, even if you are concerned about what your symptoms might be:

  • you have problems swallowing
  • you've lost a noticeable amount of weight
  • you have heartburn most days that lasts for 3 weeks or more
  • you have symptoms of oesophageal cancer that get worse
  • you have a condition that causes digestion symptoms and they're not getting better with your usual treatments

Keep persisting to secure an appointment, as addressing your worry is crucial and unlikely to go away without seeking professional help.


Conversations with your GP are confidential, and you should not be embarrassed to share your symptoms with them – they are used to discussing intimate problems and will try to put you at ease.

What happens at your GP appointment?

During your appointment, the GP or practice nurse will inquire about your health and any symptoms you may be experiencing, including family history.

The GP may feel your neck and tummy and may arrange for you to have a blood test. If they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated, they may refer you to see a specialist in hospital for more tests. They may also refer you straight to hospital for a test to look inside your oesophagus. In some cases, this may be an urgent referral, usually within 2 weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.

Find out more information and tips about seeing your GP on CRUK’s website here: Seeing a GP for oesophageal cancer | Cancer Research UK

Causes of oesophageal cancer

It's not always clear what causes oesophageal cancer.

Anyone can get it, but you might be more at risk if you:

  • are over the age of 75 (it's not very common in people under 45)
  • are a man
  • have certain conditions, such as long-term, severe acid reflux (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease), or Barrett's oesophagus

Many oesophageal cancers are also linked to lifestyle such as:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Being overweight or obese

How to lower your risk of oesophageal cancer

You cannot always prevent oesophageal cancer. But making healthy changes can lower your chances of getting it. These include:

  • trying to lose weight if you're overweight
  • letting hot drinks cool down a bit before drinking, so they do not damage your oesophagus
  • trying to cut down on alcohol – avoid drinking more than 14 units per week
  • trying to quit smoking

If you’re experiencing symptoms of oesophageal cancer, make an appointment with your GP to get Peace of Mind.

For more information about oesophageal cancer, including tests and treatment for oesophageal cancer, visit the following websites:

* Statistics and information taken from Cancer Research UK and NHS England