The rate of oesophageal cancer in men in the UK has rocketed more than 50% over the last 25 years, according to new data from the charity Cancer Research UK.
Back in 1983, 2,600 men were diagnosed with the condition but this has now swelled to around 5,100, with the most dramatic rise - 67% - seen in men in their 50s.
The incidence of oesophageal cancer has also increased in women but, at around 8% over the same timeframe, to a much lesser extent than in men.
While the factors fuelling the rise are not fully understood, Professor Janusz Jankowski, a Cancer Research UK funded clinician at the Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, says the current obesity epidemic may have played a major role.
“We know that being overweight significantly increases the risk of adenocarcinoma – the main type of oesophageal cancer that’s on the up [and] our changing diets are also likely to be influencing the rise with people eating less fruit and vegetables,” he explained.
The ninth most common cancer in the UK, oesophageal cancer is also one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose early and treat, and so the prognosis for patients is particularly poor - just 8% with the disease survive for five years.