The rate of oesophageal cancer in men has leapt 50% since the 1980s with new cases fast approaching 6,000, according to new statistics from Cancer Research UK.

This, the charity notes, equates to an increase from 15 to 23 cases per 100,000 people.

Interestingly, the rise is much smaller for women, with around 10% more now developing the disease compared to the 80s, the data show.

“It’s not yet clear why oesophageal cancer rates are increasing more among men than they are in women,” Fiona Osgun, health information officer at CR UK, told PharmaTimes Digital. “But we do know that almost 90% of oesophageal cancer cases in men and women are preventable. So stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight are all important ways of reducing your risk of developing the disease,” she added.  

Nevertheless, Rebecca Fitzgerald, CR UK oesophageal cancer expert at the University of Cambridge, says the findings are particularly concerning given that the disease can be “notoriously difficult to treat”.

Still, “great strides” are being made in earlier detection of the disease. “If we can pick up Barrett’s oesophagus in more people, it could mean we can stop the disease becoming cancer,” she said, stressing that “catching it early is absolutely critical to survival”.

Oesophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK, with around 7,700 people dying from the disease each year.