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Hopton cancer survivor speaks out and urges others not to ignore symptoms

PUBLISHED: 08:35 01 June 2012

Cancer survivor Robert Pheby. He succesffully battled oesophago-gastric cancer, and is now helping to promote a campaign for others to spot the symptoms of this form of cancer early on to ensure they can get treatment.

Picture: James Bass

Cancer survivor Robert Pheby. He succesffully battled oesophago-gastric cancer, and is now helping to promote a campaign for others to spot the symptoms of this form of cancer early on to ensure they can get treatment. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

A CANCER survivor is urging people not to ignore persistent health symptoms that could point to them having a relatively unknown - but growing - form of the disease.

Robert Pheby has spoken out about how he battled oesophago-gastric cancer (cancer of the gullet or stomach) in a bid to raise awareness of its effects as the number of diagnoses are on the rise, especially in Great Yarmouth.

Nearly 100 people a year in the town and its surrounds are diagnosed with the little known form of cancer and health bosses are now urging residents to recognise the symptoms of both and get seen by their doctor early on.

Mr Pheby, a dad-of-three from Hopton, was diagnosed with the disease in January 2011, which was luckily still at a treatable stage even though he had put off going to see his doctor, even when his symptoms got worse.

The 68-year-old said: “It was very shocking to hear my diagnosis because I had never heard of this cancer before. I delayed in seeing my doctor and I am now very keen to tell people how important it is to see your GP if you are suffering from persistent or gradually worsening symptoms.”

The NHS Be Clear on Cancer Campaign is urging residents to look out for the following symptoms:

● Food feels like it is sticking in the throat while swallowing

● Suffering from heartburn or indigestion on or off for three weeks

Dr Jane Scott, a GP at Kessingland Surgery near Lowestoft, is fronting the campaign.

She said: “People are often worried about bothering their doctor with what they think are ‘trivial’ problems, but if symptoms like these carry on you really need to speak to your GP.”

Dr Rory Harvey, medical director for Anglia Cancer Network - which is spearheading the campaign after running a successful pilot scheme for other forms of the disease last year, added: “Most people have heard of breast or lung cancer but not cancer of the stomach or oesophagus which are now amongst the most common. The Be Clear message is the same; you are not wasting anyone’s time by getting your symptoms checked out and seeing your doctor without delay may save your life.”

In 2010, 66 people from The Great Yarmouth and Waveney PCT area died from oesophago-gastric cancer and figures have shown the disease is now in the top ten of common cancers that result in death.

It is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in men, after lung, prostate and bowel, and the sixth most in women, following lung, breast, bowel, ovary and pancreas.

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