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Early Cancer Institute

Heartburn Cancer UK’s Heartburn Health Check units at The Lanesborough hotel

This February, Heartburn Cancer UK (HCUK) is not only offering free heartburn health checks to mark Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month, but also celebrating its 20th year as a pioneering charity dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of persistent heartburn, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and Barrett’s oesophagus.

Heartburn Cancer UK, founded in 2003 by Mimi McCord, has played a crucial role in educating the public about the link between persistent heartburn and the increased risk of oesophageal cancer. Over the past two decades the charity has been at the forefront of providing support, resources and advocacy for those impacted by this devastating disease.

During Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month HCUK is running a special initiative at the Lanesborough Hotel in London, where a mobile unit will provide free heartburn health check tests to people with persistent heartburn.

The 'capsule sponge test', developed by Early Cancer Institute Director Rebecca Fitzgerald, is a minimally invasive procedure used as an alternative to an endoscopy. It involves swallowing a pill on a thread and can be carried out by a nurse at a GP surgery or mobile unit. Once the capsule has dissolved and the sponge has expanded, it is drawn back up the oesophagus and tested for cells which could point to oesophageal cancer or the pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett’s oesophagus.

During its 20th anniversary year, HCUK is intensifying its efforts to inform the public about the importance of recognising persistent heartburn symptoms and seeking timely medical attention. The initiative at the Lanesborough Hotel is part of a campaign called ‘Demanding Hope’, which was launched at a special fundraising dinner in November 2023.

To introduce the campaign, HCUK founder and Chair, Mimi, gave a powerful speech about losing her husband, Mike, to oesophageal cancer. This was followed by a video message:

The response to the free heartburn health checks in London has been overwhelming, and unfortunately there are no more appointments available. However there is a wealth of information about heartburn, Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal cancer on the Heartburn Cancer UK website.

You can also find out about Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month on the Guts UK website. If you are concerned about persistent heartburn or other symptoms, please consult your GP.