A TEAM treating people with upper gastrointestinal cancer across Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire has been nominated for a national award for their work treating people with early oesophageal cancer.

The team have been nominated for the award by the British Medical Journal for their work fighting against the form of the disease, which affects more than 200 people in Worcestershire alone every year.

Worcester MP Robin Walker visited Worcestershire Royal Hospital on Friday, March 21 to meet staff and patients and hear about their experiences.

Brian Harris from Worcester is one of the patients treated by the team after being diagnosed with the disease in March last year.

The 72-year-old said the support of the team had been invaluable during his treatment.

“I was able to get to know other patients and talk to them on the phone before I even had my surgery,” he said.

“A lot of people haven’t heard of oesophageal cancer and it’s hard to describe the feeling of food getting stuck.

“I never felt ill at all, and I couldn’t believe it when I heard I had cancer.

“During my treatment, I got phone calls every week from the specialist nurse asking how I was. The whole service was excellent.

“I’m retired now, and I’m concentrating on getting my fitness back so I’ll be cycling and playing badminton to keep active.”

Those diagnosed with the disease can be treated with a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy and all patients in the three counties are able to take part in clinical trials with access to the latest treatments.

Consultant surgeon Martin Wadley said treatments for oesophageal cancer were safer and more effective than they had ever been but survival rates were not dropping.

“The problem is that the symptoms are not well known and many people are diagnosed too late,” he said.

“Working with my colleagues in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire we’re treating more people earlier.

“Early stage cancer can be treated without major surgery and with excellent results.”

Mr Walker described his experience meeting patients and the team as “inspiring”.

“I was delighted to congratulate this very special team on their nomination for a national award and see for myself the difference that their work makes to people’s lives,” he said.

“We are fortunate to have consultants like Martin at Worcester as well as specialist nurses and a new radiotherapy centre coming to the hospital which will help to make us even more of a centre of excellence for cancer treatment.”

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer include difficulty swallowing food, a sensation of food being stuck in the chest as it goes down, unexpected weight loss, being sick or bleeding after eating and constant indigestion or heartburn.