Can't tell him I have had Heartburn most of my adult life.

  Persistent Heartburn - See your Doctor.

Is it Really JUST Heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning feeling in your chest caused by reflux of your stomach contents (including acid and bile) travelling back up into your oesophagus. You would not normally notice reflux but if it happens regularly symptoms may start to appear.

These include:
a burning feeling
pain just under your breastbone or in your chest
an acid taste in your mouth
a hoarse voice

We recommend that if you have frequent heartburn symptoms you should ask to have an endoscopy to check whether your oesophagus is damaged.

10% of people suffer with Heartburn every week

Sometimes you may feel pain when you swallow. Heartburn is often worse after rich meals, citrus fruits, hot drinks or alcohol.

The reasons for developing reflux are not always clear. Some people do seem more likely to get reflux - especially those who smoke, drink too much alcohol or put on weight, or women who are pregnant. Wearing tight clothes, bending down or bending forwards and eating rich, fatty foods all seem to increase the chances of suffering from reflux. None of these things may apply to you or your friend or relative and there are people who seem to lead healthy lives and still suffer from reflux symptoms.

If your reflux symptoms are mild you should be able to control them by:
being careful about what you eat
eating smaller meals
not eating late at night
and avoiding bending down

10% of people with Heartburn Unknowingly have Barrett's

Your doctor may want to refer you for investigations to find out whether or not the reflux is causing damage to your oesophagus. This is normally done by endoscopy, where a video camera examines your oesophagus in great detail and tiny pieces of tissue are taken (biopsy). This procedure is done by passing a thin, flexible tube through your mouth and down into your oesophagus. Although this sounds uncomfortable, your throat will be made numb or you can be sedated (made drowsy). You will not need a full anaesthetic. The endoscopy may find inflammation called oesophagitis and sometimes Barrett's oesophagus. Both of these problems are often linked to a hiatus hernia. This is when the top of your stomach has moved (herniated) above your diaphragm muscle (the muscle which normally helps to prevent your stomach contents from moving up into your oesophagus). Sometimes, if it isn't clear whether reflux has caused your symptoms, oesophageal pH studies may be useful. These involve passing a fine tube through your nose and into your oesophagus. The tube has probes attached, which are sensitive to acid. A recorder checks how much acid is in your oesophagus, normally over 24 hours. In the past, an X-ray and a drink of a substance called barium (called a barium swallow) would be used to check your oesophagus. However, they do not show as much as an endoscopy and samples cannot be taken, so an endoscopy is always used unless it is not possible to do so for some reason.

Don"t ignore long term Persistent Heartburn

You can normally control more serious symptoms by taking tablets which suppress acid. There are different brands of tablet but they are made up of two main types called histamine receptor antagonists and proton pump inhibitors. These can be used together if the symptoms are very serious. These tablets are normally very effective, though they can cause side effects. You may not want to take regular medication, in which case you may want to consider an anti-reflux operation. The most common type of operation is called a 'fundoplication' which involves wrapping the top of your stomach around the lower end of your oesophagus. This can often be carried out using keyhole surgery.

Raising awareness, Changing the future SEE YOUR DOCTOR

We recommend that if you have frequent heartburn symptoms you should ask to have an endoscopy to check whether your oesophagus is damaged.  

Why Heartburn Cancer UK Exists

As a recognised and trusted authority in the field of Cancer of the Oesophagus, we know that with your help we can make significant inroads in the Prevention, Detection and Treatment of this disease by focussing on 5 key areas of action:  


Education leads to a lasting change. We are working hard to influence public and social policy, to lobby politicians, to campaign for change, to promote greater collaboration amongst the medical profession, the public and the government. We are already in the process of developing a network of effective partnerships with businesses, the pharmaceutical industry, medical professionals and other like-minded groups. We intend to effect change and influence how this disease is perceived, detected, diagnosed and treated.


Our aim is to significantly reduce incurable oesophageal cancer in the UK.

Our renowned medical professionals, all experts in the field of oesophageal cancer, will continue to play a key role in research and trials designed to reduce the incidence of this appalling disease.


Early detection rates are vital to ensure a positive outcome. We are creating a communication network to facilitate greater awareness of the importance of diagnosing the disease early, identifying the symptoms associated with the disease and seeking medical help quickly. Oesophageal cancer affects everyone regardless of their race, gender or age.


We will ensure consistent support is available to everyone affected by Barrett’s Oesophagus, regardless of who they are and where they live. Information and advice is available to all those affected by the disease and to the people who support them, on our website or by telephone.

We need your help to bring this to the attention of your employees, friends & family or indeed anyone who might suffer from persistent heartburn!

You can make a difference. Perhaps you know someone who has suffered from persistent heartburn, Barrett’s Oesophagus or Oesophageal Cancer. Perhaps you run an organisation and would like to help. Why not make it your company’s corporate responsibility?


We are not content with standing still; we are determined to develop and grow a sustainable UK charity which continually re-invests to maximise the impact of its resources.

Working with UK businesses and voluntary organisations' our outward facing collaborative approach will ensure we are the first place to come to for reliable, up to date information about Heartburn, Barrett’s and Oesophageal Cancer.

HCUK - Information Centre

All you need to know about Heartburn, Barrett's Oesophagus, Oesopageal Cancer. If you need support we can offer advice, please contact us on the "Ask our Doctor a Question" form, or you can join one of our Local Support Groups. You can also buy Heartburn Cancer UK Clothing and other HCUK Merchandise to help Raise Awarness and of course we would very much welcome a Donation to keep the charity able to carry on offering free advise and Raising Awareness, Changing the Future and Saving Lives.