Oesophageal Cancer is the seventh most common Cancer in the UK.

  Early Diagnosis Saves Lives.

HCUK News & Events - Past & Present


At HCUK we want you to know that, despite the unprecedented global situation regarding Covid-19, we are still available at Heartburn Cancer UK if you have any questions or concerns about Barrett’s Oesophagus or Oesophageal Cancer. As per the government advice regarding social distancing we are working remotely, however, we can still be contacted by email If you prefer to call on 01256 338668 our staff are able to take a message and we will call you back as soon as we are able

For up-to-date advice regarding the situation as it applies to cancer patients please follow this link to advice produced by the One Cancer Voice partnership

The following two websites also have some information which you may find useful. However, if you have any questions about your care at this time then please do contact your GP


2020 - HCUK sponsor The UCL Upper GI Symposium (UGIS) - 28th February 2020
HCUK are delighted to be the charity sponsors of The UCL Upper GI Symposium (UGIS) to be held on 28th February 2020. There will be a dedicated patient/lay focused session with expert speakers and an ‘Ask the Expert’ panel discussion. This will be held throughout the morning of the 28th February with participants welcome to listen to the afternoon sessions, which though not aimed at a lay audience, may be of interest
Click here for more details
Click here for the Full Symposium Programme

2020 - Coronavirus – advice to cancer patients
Please now find here an FAQ document that’s been written with the input of a number of cancer charities under the ‘One Cancer Voice’ banner, including CRUK and MacMillan and coordinated through Cancer52 member Bloodwise.
Click here to see the FAQ document

2020 - Barrett’s Oesophagus – Richard’s Story
When Richard found out about HCUK and our work to raise awareness of the symptoms of Barrett’s Oesophagus he was very keen to share his experience, in the hope that it would highlight the benefit of listening to your symptoms and seeking medical advice...
....Read his story here

2020 - Husband whose wife mistook cancer symptoms for heartburn is campaigning to save more lives
Click here for more details

2020 - Early diagnosis makes all the difference – Allan’s Story
Allan tragically lost his Dad to Oesophageal Cancer in 2003 when he was just 50 years old. It was totally preventable had he known about the dangers of persistent Heartburn and acid reflux. He was diagnosed in the May of that year after having difficulty swallowing and died just a few months later in the December.

Allan felt lost and angry after the death of his father and had a turbulent few years. Then like history repeating itself,Allan also found himself suffering with Heartburn and acid indigestion....
....Read his full story here

2020 - How the Cytosponge could change lives – Liz’s Story
Liz was invited to take part in the BEST3 cytosponge trial by her GP in 2017. It was the first time she’d heard of the existence of Barrett’s Oesophagus even though she’d been treated for acid reflux for some 40 year....
....Read her full story here

2020 - Inspiring cancer fundraiser led by brave Ballater woman Eileen Collins/strong
If you would like to donate in support of her courage and efforts then:

To donate £3, text EILEEN to 70331
To donate £5, text EILEEN to 70970
To donate £10, text EILEEN to 70191


Read the newspaper articles here:-

2020 - Go Skydive

Join us and do a Charity Skydive - 11th July & 19th September 2020
Click here to see out poster
Or book on-line:

2019 - PRESS RELEASE Heartburn Cancer UK – 05/12/19
Is your heartburn just the Brussel sprouts?
Heartburn isn’t unusual over the festive season. But a leading specialist cancer charity is asking people to question – and not ignore - any enduring discomfort they feel in their chest this Christmas. The answer could save lives.
To see the full Press Release click here

2019 - Zantac Press Coverage
It seems that some drugs specifically with the brand name Zantac might or might not be contaminated. It appears to be a very low risk and we have no formal policy in place. The recommendation of the FDA is for patients to report any problems if they get them but by the sounds of it this is extremely unlikely.

So patients should continue to take the medicines but if they want to change they need to discuss with their doctor whether there are suitable alternatives. For now however no recommendation is being made for people to discontinue any medicine they are currently taking.

Professor Laurence Lovat, UCLH
To see the full article click here

An expert roundtable discussion on issues facing patients and healthcare professionals.
Click here for more details

2019 - PRESS RELEASE Heartburn Cancer UK – 05/09/19
New campaign asks the Burning Question……is it really just Heartburn? The answer could save your life
A new awareness campaign, launched by Heartburn Cancer UK, a charity based in Basingstoke, hopes to save lives by getting more people to question – and act on – a very common condition which can be an early warning sign that something is seriously wrong.
To see the full Press Release click here

2019 - i-Transport Charity Car Wash


A big thank you to i-Transport who held a Charity Car Wash on 11th September
and raised funds for HCUK

2019 - HCUK sponsor The UCL Upper GI Symposium (UGIS)

HCUK are delighted to be the charity sponsors of The UCL Upper GI Symposium (UGIS) to be held on 28th February 2020. There will be a dedicated patient/lay focused session with expert speakers and an ‘Ask the Expert’ panel discussion. This will be held throughout the morning of the 28th February with participants welcome to listen to the afternoon sessions, which though not aimed at a lay audience, may be of interest.
Click here for more details
Click here for the Full Symposium Programme

2019 - GUTS UK announce research funding opportunities

Guts UK are pleased to announce the following funding opportunities.
Visit the Guts UK website at
for more information and to download the application forms and guidance. 
The deadline for all awards is 19th August 2019.

2019 - Artist Ann raises awareness of oesophageal cancer

Amateur artist, Ann Wood is putting on an art exhibition at a community centre in Warrington to raise awareness of oesophageal cancer.

Prior to diagnosis, Ann (51) had climbed Ska Fell Pike, exercised regularly, did not smoke or drink and followed the usual healthy lifestyle guidance of eating more than five fruit and vegetables a day. She was not regarded as being at risk of oesophageal cancer but had a cousin who had been treated for the disease. Towards the end of 2017, she developed severe heart burn, a lingering sore throat and a scratchy pain in the chest that came on suddenly several weeks of attending a weights class. Thinking she had overdone the exercise and developed a hiatus hernia, she consulted her GP and pushed for a gastroscopy which discovered an early tumour in her oesophagus.

Ann is raising awareness of this disease through an exhibition of drawings she did while undergoing her treatment last year. The exhibition falls exactly a year since the life changing surgery she had to remove the cancer, which has left her with a number of challenges, especially around eating and staying hydrated. The drawings describe the highs and lows of life while undergoing cancer treatment. Ann does not describe her artwork as pretty nor can it be classed as fine art but she hopes it will send out a message.

Cancer of the oesophagus has been responsible for the deaths of actors Humphrey Bogart and John Thaw, writers Philip Larkin and Harold Pinter, motorcyclist Barry Sheene, lawyer Robert Kardashian, musician Chas Hodges (of Chas and Dave) and more recently, the comedian, Jeremy Hardy.

“It is a remarkably unsexy disease and rarely gets an airing in the media because the oesophagus is hidden away and quite uninteresting. Also people often think heartburn is normal and getting it investigated may be viewed as wasting a doctor’s time. It is always worth it as the consequences are so great if ignored and most people present too late”.

If you want to see Ann’s drawings, the exhibition ‘The Art of Oesophageal Cancer’ is on display at the Taylor Gallery, The Old School, Fairfield Street, Warrington from 29 May 2019-27 June 2019.

2019 - Chrissy runs over 2660 miles to spotlight deaths from ‘ignored’ cancer
On Sunday May 19th in Richmond Park Chrissy Gorham of Botley, Southampton ran her one hundredth marathon just over a year to the day since her husband John died of cancer of the oesophagus.

Chrissy, 61, has been racing in memory of John and to raise money for the charity who supported him through his illness – Heartburn Cancer UK.

chriisy may

“I started running marathons when I met John over 10 years ago and we managed 55 before he died on 8 May last year aged just 63. Setting myself the target of reaching the 100 mark has given me purpose and an opportunity to raise awareness of what is Britain’s sixth biggest cancer killer, particularly of men,” Chrissy says.

Heartburn Cancer UK has been supporting sufferers of oesophageal cancer since 2003 when it was founded by Mimi McCord after the death of her husband Michael from the disease at the age of 47.

“We are determined to raise awareness of the cancer among the public but also among GPs,” says Mimi. “It is too easy to dismiss the symptoms as heartburn and self medicate to manage them with off the shelf treatments. People are largely unaware of the disease and yet we have the highest incidence in the world.”

Cancer of the oesophagus affects the pipe that runs from the gullet to the stomach. Symptoms include persistent heartburn, cough and difficulty swallowing. Men are four times as likely to contract it is as women and it is particularly prevalent in the north east and Scotland.

When she finishes her 100th run Chrissy will have raised over £5000 for Heartburn Cancer UK. Since John died last year she will have completed 45 marathons in 12 months, sometimes running three a week???(Chrissy what is most you have run in a week).

Chrissy’s countdown events will include the prestigious London Marathon on 28 April.

“I was 48 when I started running and my best time has been 3hours 51 minutes and 30 seconds but I haven’t done under four hours for a while,” says Chrissy.

The events she chooses have at least 25 people taking part and publish their results so they will all be recognised by the 100 Marathon Club. Chrissy will receive a coveted blue and yellow running top from the club when she completes her 100th in Richmond.

She’s a solitary runner – driving herself to and from events. “It’s usually me on my own, she says, “though I do see some of the same people regularly. Virtually all of the runs are off road so I can look at the birds, other wildlife and scenery. It’s like a meditation for me.” Once the 100 are completed Chrissy will not be stopping, just going up a gear.

“I’m going to run 100 ultra marathons next – that’s anything longer than the traditional marathon length of 26 miles 385 yards or 42.195km.”

Charity founder Mimi says what Chrissy is doing is a vital contribution to general knowledge about cancer of the oesophagus.

“Incidence is rising and diagnosis is usually too late. We need as many people as possible to be aware of symptoms and the risks,” she says.

2019 - NICE developing a piece of Interventional Procedures
Guidance for Barrett’s oesophagus or squamous dysplasia of the oesophagus

2019 - The Burning Question for Lorry Drivers
Is it Heartburn? Or cancer of the Oesophagus?
See the full article here


2019 - Oesophageal cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the UK.
Unfortunately we know that, in some patients who have had their cancer treated, there remains a risk of the cancer returning. There is some evidence to suggest that aspirin might stop or delay cancers of the oesophagus (food pipe) and stomach from coming back. However, this has not yet been evaluated in a clinical trial, which is the best way to test cancer treatments. The Add-Aspirin trial is aiming to recruit 2100 individuals who have had surgery or a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat a cancer of the stomach or oesophagus. The study will compare groups of people who are given aspirin with a group who are given placebo (dummy) tablets to find out whether taking regular aspirin can stop the cancer from coming back, avoiding subsequent treatment and preventing deaths.

If you think you might be eligible for this trial, or are interested in finding out more, please visit our website, or talk to your doctor, to find out if your hospital is participating in the study:

2019 - Joint NCRI and NHS England 'Living With and Beyond Cancer' event:

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) has recently opened registration for a joint Living With and Beyond Cancer (LWBC) event with the NHS Cancer Programme. The event is part of NCRI’s ongoing work to translate the recently launched UK top LWBC research priorities
(developed by cancer patients, carers, health and social care professionals) into patient benefit. Aimed at researchers and professionals undertaking or looking to undertake research in LWBC, the event will include plenary talks, workshop sessions and opportunities to network with funding bodies. It will take place on 29-30 April 2019 in Manchester. Find out more and register at: wbc-event/

Follow them on twitter @NCRI_partners

2019 - Revolutionary' breath test to detect cancer trial begins
Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald, lead trial investigator at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre,
told ITV News:
Click here to see the full news article

2019 - The UK Top 10 research priorities to help people live better with and beyond cancer
Click here for more information 

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 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 allow the charity to carry on offering free advise, Raising Awareness, Changing the Future and Saving Lives.

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