Heartburn that lasts for three weeks continuously can indicate the presence of oesophageal or stomach cancer, revealed a new study.
A national Be Clear on Cancer campaign launch coincides with results of a new survey commissioned by Public Health England, whichreveals only one in two people would visit their doctor if they had heartburn most days for three weeks or more, the Mirror reported.
However, having the complaint this often can be a sign of oesophageal or stomach cancer, the campaign warned. Early diagnosis of oesophageal or stomach cancer - also known as oesophago-gastric cancers, was crucial and means treatment was more likely to be successful.
Around 67 percent of people diagnosed with oesophago-gastric cancers at the earliest stage survive for at least five years, but this figure drops to around 3 percent for those diagnosed at a late stage.
The survey of 1,046 people found 59 percent of respondents did not know that heartburn could be a sign of cancer, with just 15 percent saying they were certain that it was a symptom.
Another symptom highlighted by the campaign was a difficulty swallowing food. The survey found that 70 percent did not know food sticking in the throat could be a sign of cancer, and just 13 percent of those surveyed were sure it is a symptom.
Sean Duffy, national clinical director for cancer at NHS England, said that patients with possible early signs and symptoms should visit their GP so where necessary they can be referred for tests, and treatment can start quickly.