News and Campaigns

#28BY29 campaign

The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce has started the #28BY29 campaign to encourage the Government to aim to double the survival rate of the six less survivable cancers - oesophageal, stomach, pancreatic, lung, brain and liver - within the ten year period of the next cancer strategy.   This can, we believe, be achieved through more resources being allocated to research, screening and treatments.   A petition to allow people to sho support for this case has been started by the Brain Tumour charity and supported by the other charities involved.


Welcome to our friends in Northern Ireland

OGCancerNI is a new Charity based in Northern Ireland. It is led by former patients and carers. Their main objective is to support people who have been affected by oesophago-gastric cancer. They also aim to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of oesophago-gastric cancer.


'Gut Reaction' - Annual Scientific Meeting of PCSG

The annual scientific meeting of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology takes place on Friday 16 November at the Wellcome Collection 183 Euston Road, Kings Cross, London NW1 2BE.   Sessions include Reflux, Barrett’s and PPIs – the truth and lies
Dr Robert Willert
and Transnasal endoscopy  Lois Penketh-King.   More information is on the link below


To book your place click here:


Gut Reaction PCSG Meeting
ASM Email send out V7.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [667.3 KB]

Basingstoke bench helps raise awareness

Congratulations to Beryl Huntingdon of HCUK who bought a special Girl Power Bookbench at a charity auction and arranged a permanent home for it at Basingstoke's Discovery Centre, as reported in the Basingstoke Gazette 2 November 2017.   All in the cause of raising awareness of persistent heartburn's links to potential cancer.   (Image from Basingstoke Gazette)


Non endoscopic screening - Research Update

There are many people who suffer from troubling heartburn, and it only a small  minority who will have developed Barrett's Oesophagus or cancer.   Endoscopy is the means by which any problems can be definitively diagnosed, but developing a test that can be administered in GP surgeries would be a great step forward in this process.

Cytosponge is a 'pill on a string', aims to identify patients with Barrett's Oesophagus and is currently being assessed in a trial called BEST2 led by Prof Rebecca Fitzgerald

Breath testing for volatile organic compounds would identify adenocarcinoma in the oesophagus or stomach, and research is being led by Prof gerige Hanna at Imperial College, London.

The SPIT project  is based on saliva and is being researched to identify biomarkers for  oesophageal, and then colon and pancreatic cancer, led from University College London by Professor Laurence Lovat.



Action Against Heartburn is a founder member of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (Launch date 19 July 2017 at Parliament).   This group of charities campaigns for more research, monitoring and attention to be given to the cancers that have less than a 5-year survival rate, in contrast to many of the better known and better resourced cancer initiatives.   These cancers represent 41% of cancer deaths but progress has often been slow or non-existent compared with the good progress made against other cancers.

Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month  - February 2017

After the success of the 2016 campaign, we will again be targetting pharmacies with our important message for regular users of over-the-counter heartburn remedies such as Gaviscon, to seek advice from their GP about underlying causes of their heartburn.   This time we shall be making this a more widespread affort on a national basis. 

Our new Medical Advisor - Dr Jason Dunn

We are delighted to welcome Dr Jason Dunn as our medical advisor.   Jason is a consultant gastroenterologist at St Thomas' hospital and a member of the Oesophageal Committee of the British Society of Gastroenterology whose special interests include Barrett's Oesophagus and the prevetnion of oesophageal cancer.

Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month, February 2016

During February, we distributed posters and leaflets to local pharmacies, GP surgeries and other locations.  One person saw the leaflets, immediately went to her GP because of persistent heartburn, and was later diagnosed with Barrett's Oesophagus, a classic example of people we want to reach so that their condition can be monitored and/or treated because of the potential risk of cancer.   One volunteer visitred no fewer than 70 pharmacies amd other locations, an excellent achievement.


Oesophageal Cancer Westminster Campaign report

In January 2016, the Westminster campaign published an important report about the geographical variations in treatment for Barrett's Oesophagus

Heartburn Cancer UK Awareness Day

14 December 2015 marked a great day for raising awareness in London about the risks of persistent heartburn.   The red bus visited mainline railway stations, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament, where they were greeted by Maria Miller MP, a great advocate and supporter of the cause.  James Gossage, Upper GI consultant surgeon at St Thomas' and his colleague Jason Dunn, consultant gastroenterologist, joined Tim Underwood in supporting the cause of getting persistent heartburn checked out for underlying causes.   


Bethany Brown running in New York marathon

We are delighted to announce that Bethany Brown is running in the New York marathon to support Action Against Heartburn.   We wish her great success and the best of luck in preparing for the big day on 1 November 2015.   To sponsor Bethany, please visit her Justgiving page:




UPDATE:  Beth finished in 4 hours 40 minutes and as at 9 November she has raised £1,634!   Congratulations!


Action Against Heartburn at the 2015 London Marathon

Wearing her Action Against Heartburn running vest, Alison Chisnell crosses Tower Bridge on her way to completing the 2015 London Marathon and raising over £1,400.   Congratulations!

Norfolk Campaign

With a grant from National Lottery's 'Awards for All' we have begun a campaign in Norfolk to coincide with the 'Be Clear on Cancer' campaign running from 26 January to 28 February 2015.   Along with adverts and posters, our radio ads are running on Heart East Anglia and on Future Radio.   Future Radio have also featured an interview which you can hear with this link.  

Pharmaceutical Advisor

We are delighted to announce that Ash Soni OBE, the President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, has agreed to act as Pharmaceutical Advisor to Action Against Heartburn.   Pharmacists play an important role in relation to people who suffer from persistent heartburn, as many of their customers are regular consumers of over-the-counter heartburn remedies like Gaviscon, Rennies or Tums.   Advice from pharmacists can play an important role in referring people to their GP and on for a proper investigation of underlying causes.

Point To Your Oesophagus Campaign

Launched on 4 January 2015, this campaign run by Barrett's Wessex, encourages people to point to their oesophagus, post a photograph on social media and then nominate somebody else to do the same.   The public's knowledge is low about where their oesophagus is, what it does - the food tube between throat and stomach - and the importance of getting persistent heartburn properly checked, so this campaign aims to develop awareness in advance of Public Health England's Be Clear on Cancer campaign due to start on 26 January 2015.



Oesophageal Cancer Westminster Campaign

Press release_13-Oct-2014.pdf
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Mike Thornton (top) MP for Eastleigh, David Heyes, MP for Ashton under Lyne, and Heather Wheeler, MP for South Derbyshire, were amongst those who signed the campaign pledge on oesophageal cancer on 13 October 2014 at a well attended rally and reception at Westminster.
The pledge draws attention to the fact that more than 70% of the oesophageal cancer cases in the UK are associated with Barrett's Oesophagus, that awareness of this amongst the public and health professionals is low, and that access to early diagnosis and treatment for Barrett's Oesophagus reduces the likelihood of developing cancer which saves lives and is cost-effective for the NHS. The pledge ends 'We believe that NHS England should support guidance and referral of patients with persistent heartburn and those at risk of Barrett's Oesophagus. In addition we fully support the Be Clear on Cancer campaign and its extension across the NHS to the rest of England"

Radio Ad campaign starts on 15 September

Thanks to a grant from Rowlands Trust a 5-week radio ad campaign starts on 15 September 2014 in the West Midlands area, aimed at long term users of over-the-counter heartburn remedies who ought to visit their GP and get checked out for underlying problems.  If you are not a listener on the Birmingham Free Radio Network you can listen here

Parliamentary Campaign

We collaborate with the Oesophageal Cancer Westminster Campaign that was launched on 12 May 2014 by Mike Thornton MP (Lib Dem, Eastleigh) with support from Sir Tony Baldry MP (Conservative, Banbury), David Heyes MP (Labour, Ashton under Lyne) and Stephen Metcalfe MP (Conservative, South Basildon and East Thurrock).


The next major event will be a lobby at Westminster (1.30pm - 4pm) on Monday 13 October 2014, followed by a reception on the terrace of the House of Commons from 4 - 6pm that day.


So please write to your MP.   Ask them if they will meet you at Westminster on 13 October to talk about this important public health issue, and will they write to Jeremy Hunt MP, the Secretary of State for Health, Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, Westminster SW1A 2NS to support our 10 point plan to help save lives through earlier diagnosis of oesophageal cancer 


Helpful Editorial for GPs

The March edition of the British Journal of General Practice has published a clear and helpful editorial 'Heartburn, Barrett's oesophagus and Cancer:  Implications for Primary Care' by Professor Tony Watson and Dr John Galloway, a GP with a special interest in gastroenterology.

BJGP Editorial(Mar-2014).pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [51.5 KB]

Listen to this!

Surgeon Tim Underwood from Southampton set out these issues very clearly in the BBC's Inside Health programme on Radio 4 on 6 November 2013.   You can listen again through the BBC website


The surgeons see all too clearly the number of patients who come to them too late for curative surgery.   If we diagnosed more cases of Barrett's Oesophagus we would be able to catch many more cases before the late stage swallowing difficulties.


The Government's Be Clear on Cancer Campaign goes regional

Under the leadership of Sean Duffy, the National Clinical Director of Cancer, the Be Clear on Cancer campaign on oesophago-gastric cancer will feature a regional campaign in the North-East of England in February 2014.   This will involve TV and radio adverts, as well as posters and other publicity material.   The emphasis will be on investigating the underlying causes of persistent heartburn, and follows the local pilot campaigns that resulted in a 20% increase in diagnosis of oesophageal cancer (177 to 212 cases) without undue pressure on other NHS resources.


We are delighted with this development and will be assisting the campaign in any way we can.

BMJ Learning Module about Barrett's Oesophagus

The BMJ Learning Module, developed with the help of HCAS, is now available for GPs and others to learn more about the management of Barrett's Oesophagus.   It is an excellent resource on a subject about which many GPs have expressed the wish to have more knowledge.   To go the the BMJ learning site, click here.

Wandsworth and other Campaign pilots

Action Against Heartburn supports the Department of Health's plans for pilot campaigns on Be Clear on Cancer took place in 2012.   There were seven local pilot schemes, and we understand that 35 additional cases of oesophageal cancer were diagnosed as a result.  They took place in the following areas:


  • Wandsworth
  • Dudley
  • Hertfordshire, Luton & South Bedfordshire
  • Sandwell & Wolverhampton
  • Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Norfolk, Suffolk, Great Yarmouth & Waveney
  • North of the Tyne, South of the Tyne & Wear, Cumbria, Darlington, Tees, Hartlepool


A decision is expected in the autumn of 2013 about whether these campaigns will be made into a regional campaign in 2014.



Professor Mike Pringle joins the team

The pilot awareness campaign for Wandsworth PCT on Be Clear on Cancerwas  launched on Wednesday 18 April.   GPs & pharmacists are involved in promoting earlier diagnosis, led by Dr. Sarah Ibbett, Macmillan GP.  The project manager is

Margaret Ancobiah, NHS Wandsworth, and they are drawing on the Department of Health's Be Clear on Cancer materials that can be accessed through the internet from Cancer Research UK.

We are delighted to announce that Professor Mike Pringle CBE MD FRCGP FRCP Emeritus Professor of General Practice and Head of the School of Community Health Sciences in the University of Nottingham has agreed to join our team as an advisor.

Wadsworth Rotary Club

Our sincere appreciation goes to Wadsworth Rotary Club who have donated £1500 to the OPA which will support this campaign.

HCAS - another charity supporting the Campaign

Mimi McCord, the Chairman of Heartburn Cancer Awareness and Support has expressed her charity's support for the Action Against Heartburn campaign, saying"...HCAS wholeheartedly endorses the AAH Campaign"



David Moss and friends choose Action Against Heartburn for their sponsored charity

David Moss and friends are walking part of the South West coast path in the Spring of 2013 to rasie money for Action Against Heartburn.   Well done lads!   We hope that as many people as possible can support the team.   £533 raised!   Congratulations!


You can give direct to them through Justgiving

Cytosponge screening could reduce cancer

A recent publication (Tatiana Benaglia and others, Health Benefits and Cost Effectiveness of Endoscopic and Nonendoscopic Cytosponge Screening for Barrett's Esophagus: Gastroenterology Vol 144, 1, pp 62-73.e6, Jan 2013) used microsimulation modelling to demonstrate that screening 50-year-old men with symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease with cytosponge is cost effective and would reduce mortality from esophageal adenocarcinoma compared with no screening.  The modelling assumed, based on research experience, that participants would accept invitations to undergo screening by cytosponge more readily than by endoscopy (45% compared to 23%).


Cytosponge is a sponge within a small capsule that a patient swallows at, for instance, a GP's surgery.   It is then drawn back up and the sample sent off for analysis.   At present it is only available on a research basis, but, in due course, the device might have a significant effect on how patients are screened.