Oesophago-gastric (gullet and stomach) cancers

In Northern Ireland in 2016, a total of 226 people were diagnosed with oesophageal (gullet) cancer. In the same year, 214 people were newly diagnosed with gastric (stomach) cancer.

Stomach and gullet cancer is medically known as oesophago-gastric (OG) cancer. Oesophageal cancer is cancer of the gullet (food pipe). Gastric cancer is cancer of the stomach.

Oesophageal (gullet) cancer

Those diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, at an early stage, have the best chance of successful treatment.

Signs and symptoms – oesophageal (gullet) cancer

Symptoms can include:  

  • difficulty swallowing;
  • pain when swallowing;
  • weight loss;
  • vomiting (being sick) or bringing food back up that hasn’t yet entered the stomach (regurgitation);
  • pain or discomfort behind the breastbone or in the back;
  • recent onset indigestion or heartburn;
  • a cough;
  • hoarseness – this happens when there is pressure on the nerve that supplies the voice box.

If you regularly experience any of these symptoms,  it is important that you see your GP.

Gastric (stomach) cancer

Many symptoms of stomach cancer are similar to less serious conditions, so it can be difficult to recognise in the early stages.

Symptoms of gastric cancer

Symptoms can include:

  • recent onset heartburn or indigestion;
  • burping a lot;
  • loss of appetite;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • weight loss;
  • feeling bloated during and after eating;
  • feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting);
  • blood in the stools (bowel motion) or black stools;
  • tiredness (fatigue) or feeling short of breath due to anaemia (a reduced number of red blood cells in the blood)

The earliest symptoms are often acidity and burping. But these are symptoms of other stomach problems too. Most people who have long-term indigestion and wind never develop cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you see your GP.

Resources

There are a number of websites that provide information relating to oesophageal and gastric cancer, these include:

This is not an exhaustive list and other sources of support in Northern Ireland can also be accessed via Northern Ireland Cancer Network.