Oesophageal Cancer is the Sixth most common, Cancer in the UK 

  Late Diagnosis costs Lives

HCUK News & Events - Past & Present

2018 - Professor Tim Underwood, Vice Chair of HCUK, the new Head of Cancer Sciences, gave his Inaugural Lecture this week in which he discussed his early years of surgery for oesophageal cancer through to the current experimental and potential treatments of the future.

He talked about how the provision of surgery has changed leading to dramatic improvements in outcomes and address the key scientific discoveries driving new approaches to treatment.

Using examples from his own research, Tim explained how technological advances are enabling us to understand cancer biology in ever increasing detail, including at the level of the individual cell. With these advances come the challenges of understanding and interpreting complexity to benefit real people in time to make a difference. Tim explored the challenge of traditional models of cancer research with examples of how “team science” is changing the research landscape.

Name: Tim Underwood
Position: Professor of GI Surgery, CRUK & RCS Advanced Clinician Scientist Fellow, Head of Cancer Sciences Research field: Oesophageal cancer and tumour ecosystems

What is your current research focus?
I lead a programme of research studying the role of the tumour microenvironment in oesophageal cancer. My team develop and apply advanced technologies to understand tumour complexity with a view to developing new treatments.

Why did you decide to focus your career on that particular area of research?
Because the five-year survival for oesophageal cancer is less than 15 per cent and only a third of patients are suitable for treatment with curative intent. New treatments are desperately needed.

You also work clinically, how do you balance your clinical and research commitments?
I have great teams in both areas, without whom this would be impossible. Even with this it is sometimes a real struggle.

You’ve recently become the Head of Cancer Sciences – what is your vision for the department?
Fortunately, when I took over as Head of the Cancer Sciences Academic Unit (CSU) in August this year I was following significant success. I inherited an Academic Unit full of great people who understand medicine in Southampton in a way that I will only ever aspire to. The CSU has grown into a world-leading cancer research department, with peaks of excellence that span haematological and solid tumour sub-types underpinned by basic biological and translational science. The opening of the Centre for Cancer Immunology, a product of the hard work and dedication of all members of the CSU team, signifies a new era of cancer research in Southampton.

The first task I set myself is to listen. I have met over 30 colleagues in one-to-ones to find out about what really goes on and we have discussed the good, the not-so-good and their views on how CSU could improve. These meetings will continue until I have heard from every team.

Clear themes are emerging, and I will devise proposals about how we can move forward together so we can be more collaborative and collegial. Cancer Sciences punches well above its weight, but to continue to do this we need to actively work together between groups and between buildings to maximise our performance and our outputs.

I want to encourage early career researchers to feel more empowered about their work and know that they have a voice and can contribute to the CSU. I also aim to be open and honest about our finances and be the link between the Unit and the Faculty executive.

I have been enthused and amazed by the fantastic work that is going on. I can tell how engaged and energised people are by their science. We have lots to be proud of, but most importantly we have fabulous people who work hard together to make CSU excellent. I am excited about the journey ahead.

What have been your biggest ‘eureka’ moments in your research field or clinical work?
Within my research areas, defining the genomic landscape of oesophageal adenocarcinoma has been a standout moment and being able to understand the complexity of this cancer type at single cell resolution for the first time.

Clinically it has been enabling enhanced recovery after oesophageal surgery. We recently set and internal record with a patient discharged only 5 days after surgery.

How would you describe the rate of progress in your research field and clinical work that you’ve witnessed?
Too slow…….but we are catching up quickly.

What would you say is your proudest career achievement?
Enabling talented researchers and clinicians to fulfil their potential.

What excites you most about the future of your research field and clinical work?
We are on the cusp of something really exciting. Computational and biological improvements are driving exponential growth in our understanding of disease. This will lead to better and more durable treatments for cancer.

2018 - RCS Surgical Specialty Lead in Oesophageal Cancer appointed Professor Tim Underwood has been appointment Surgical Speciality Lead by the Royal College of Surgeons

2018 - HCUK London Barrett’s group are very pleased to confirm that Professor Lovat will be speaking to them about the SPIT study (saliva test to predict disease risk) at their next meeting on 8 January at 5:15pm In the endoscopy seminar room at UCLH , 235 Euston Road, London

2018 - HCUK Trustee Rebecca Fitzgerald wins CRUK award for early detection research programme

rebecca fitzgerald awards

For more information click the link below

2018 - Please help change the survival rates of cancer patients
This is a petition that promotes the #28BY29 campaign – to double the survival rate for the least survivable cancers in ten years, one of which is oesophageal cancer.

Would you please consider supporting the cause by signing it?

2018 - CRUK Grand Challenge

cruk grand chllenge
Photo by Kat Arney, Wellcome Trust Sanger

Maggie Blanks (Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund) and Mimi McCord Chairman Heartburn Cancer UK take part in the CRUK Grand Challenge in a project known as
Mutographs of Cancer.

Wellcome Blog describing the recent trip to Kenya

2018 - Tiny Human Esophagus Grown in the Lab—Here's Why
Miniature versions of the organ that guides food to the stomach could help scientists treat a variety of medical ailments.
Click here to see the full article

2018 - Charity Race Night
The Rotary Club of Basingstoke held a Charity Race Night on Saturday 3rd November
raising nearly £3000 for HCUK

race night1

2018 - HCUK East Anglia Event
On Friday 14th September 2018 HCUK East Anglia held an event at Cambridge University hosted by Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, trustee of HCUK, with Interactive Exhibits on Early Detection of Cancer of the Oesophagus Endoscopic surgery demonstrations • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) to remove pre-cancer • Laboratory assays used for diagnosis • Video demonstrations of surgery • How Artificial Intelligence can help pathologists.

If anyone would like to know more about the research
Professor Fitzgerald is undertaking Cytosponge please visit

2018 - Guts UK/Olympus Fellowship
Guts UK and Olympus are offering a Fellowship for endoscopy research on one or more of the 'Top 10 research priorities in Barrett's Oesophagus and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD)’, published in Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Nov;2(11):824-831. The Fellowship is for a maximum of £210,000 for salaries and consumables over 3 years. Application forms and guidance will be available on the website soon. The deadline for submissions is 8th October 2018.

For further information visit:

2018 - HCUK supporting new position of Surgical Speciality Lead in oesophageal cancer
AUGIS – RCS Surgical Trials Initiative Inviting applications for Surgical Speciality Leads (SSLs)
For more information:

2018 - Patient and Public Involvement Opportunities
Please help Macmillan reach people affected by oesophageal cancer or Barrett’s Oesophagus by:
• sharing with your own patient involvement groups and networks
• in your newsletter
• with local cancer support groups
• sharing on social media – tweets from @BeckyDriscoll1

Your support is crucial in helping Macmillan reach people. Please don’t hesitate to contact Becky Driscoll with any questions. Thank you!

Alliance Diagnostic Hub in north east London – Patient Advisory Group members
UCLH Cancer Collaborative plans to open a new Diagnostic Hub for people living in north east London (Barking and Dagenham, City and Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest). The Hub will improve early diagnosis for patients with conditions that increase their risk of cancer, as well as monitoring patients with early stage cancer who do not need treatment right away.

cancer52 logo

2018 - 6 December 2018 SPICOS
– (Support for People Impacted by Cancer of the Oesophagus and Stomach) are holding a meeting with Professor Sandy jack speaking on The importance of getting fit for treatment.

If you would like to attend please contact or telephone 01794512718
SPICOS is a group of patients and their families who come together to listen / support and share experiences.

2018 - Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald Trustee of HCUK outlining the latest developments in early detection of Oesophageal cancer she has been involved in at Cambridge University:

2018 - BBC Breakfast How to diagnose Oesophageal cancer –
it kills 21 people a day. Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald HCUK Trustee talks about her research at Cambridge University:

2018 - NCRI survey - Survey link:

Have your say on the future of research relevant to living with and beyond cancer
More and more people are living with the consequences of cancer and its treatment - what we have termed living with and beyond cancer. But there’s not enough research relevant to living with and beyond cancer. The National Cancer Research Institute is working on a project to change this. We have opened a new survey for patients, the people who look after or have looked after them, and the professionals who work with them, to identify the most important questions that research should address – this is the second survey in our project. Tell us which of these research questions are most important by completing our survey and help us to improve the lives of people affected by cancer. You do not need to have taken part in the previous survey. The survey will close on 12 April 2018. You can find out more about the project at Follow NCRI onTwitter @NCRI_partners

2018 - HCUK Trustee, Beryl Huntingdon, mentioned by Maria Miller in UK Parliament

2018 - Cancer development: Origins in the oesophagus

by Lizhe Zhuang & Rebecca C. Fitzgerald

The cellular origins of a precancerous condition called Barrett's oesophagus have been unclear. Tracking and analysis of epithelial cells at the affected.... click to see the full article

2018 - Psychosocial Impact of Pre-malignant conditions (PIP) Study
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast in the UK, are conducting the first large-scale survey of Barrett’s oesophagus patients and individuals with other precancerous conditions to investigate the impact of being diagnosed and living with a precancerous condition. We are particularly interested to know more about how you feel about your Barrett’s oesophagus and the impact, if any, Barrett’s oesophagus has had on your life since diagnosis. The findings of this study will be used to inform future healthcare service provision for individuals with precancers and will be published in a scientific peer reviewed journal.

To learn more about this study and to take part please click here:

All responses to the survey are anonymous (i.e. it will not be possible to identify you from any of the responses provided) and it should take no longer than 15-20 minutes to complete.

We look forward to hearing your opinions and appreciate your time and participation.
Thank you for helping to further our research

Dad's devastating diagnosis when his heartburn turned into cancer of the oesophagus. Retired accountant John Gorham was shocked when his acid reflux developed into something more sinister
Click the link to see the full article

Why middle aged men should NEVER dismiss heartburn: Chas (of Chas & Dave) warns how his seemingly harmless symptoms turned out to be oesophageal cancer.
Click the link to see the full article

Other Events and Challenges to Raise Money
There are many other events and adventures you could do to raise money for us go to this will give you an idea of what they are".

HCUK are pleased to support the NICE Quality Standard (QS96) on Dyspepsia and gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD) published today (21.7.15).

The quality standard can be viewed by following this link:

HCUK Awareness Day December 2015
A full report of the day in London

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 amonsgt 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 affect 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 persisitent 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 organisation’s, 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.