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lollipop day

Irish oesophageal cancer rates remain among the highest in Europe

However, new data reveals high success rates in curative approaches to oesophageal cancer treatment. Lollipop Day takes place this week.

NEW DATA HAS revealed high success rates in curative approaches to the treatment of oesophageal cancer, as the 17th Lollipop Day approaches.

Barrett’s Oesophagus is a condition that is frequently a precursor to full-scale cancer.

The National Registry & Biobank for Barrett’s Oesophagus patients, which links six Irish hospitals, helps identify at-risk persons earlier and track their progress with regular surveillance, using endoscopies and bioscopies. The Registry is funding by the Oesophageal Cancer Fund (OCF).

Since 2010, the national data has revealed that of 6,000 patients, some 1033 (18%) at first diagnosis with Barrett’s had worrisome changes in their condition, with 5% having early cancer.

On follow-up for an average of four years, 20% of patients who had no worries from the first scope developed concerning changes, just over 15.7% were found with dysplasia and no cancer, and 4.3% were found with high-grade dysplasia or cancer.


In patients with low-grade changes – dysplasia – on first scope, 33% progressed to cancer in the follow-up.

Suitable patients who are monitored on the Registry can then receive endotherapy - curative approaches to treatment that may heretofore have been treated with major surgery to remove the oesophagus.

Endotherapy can minimise or prevent abnormal cells from developing into a cancerous condition of the oesophagus.

The data collected by the Registry has found that 264 patients with worrisome changes in their Barrett’s Oesophagus condition have undergone endotherapy.

In this period, 100 patients had their oesophagus removed for early cancers. Of these, 60% went straight to surgery as not suitable for endotherapy.

30% had attempted treatment with endotherapy which showed features demanding oesophageal surgery.

In just 10 patients (10%) did endotherapy fail and their cancer relapsed, leading them with no choice but major surgery.

Irish oesophageal cancer rates remain among the highest in Europe with a 25% increase in cases of the disease over the last two decades here, and around 450 new diagnoses a year.

However, the above outcomes show a large success rate to date as a result of the curative approaches to treating cancer that is caught early.

Lollipop Day

The 17th annual Lollipop Day, run by the OCF, takes place on the 23-24 February.

Lollipop Day is the charity’s main fundraising event every year. Hundreds of volunteers sell lollipops throughout Ireland during the event to help raise funds for the charity.

The lollipops were chosen as the emblem for the campaign to highlight the most comment symptom of suspicion of oesophageal cancer – difficulty swallowing.

“Improving patients’ quality of life and providing support are our priorities and the OCF is proud to be part of a national effort which makes treatment accessible and is always pushing the boundaries and progressing options,” Noelle Ryan, chief executive of the OCF said.


We could not do this without the generosity and support of the public. Curative approaches, endotherapy and the Registry would not be where they are today for people in Ireland without donations.

Read: People living in areas of high radon exposure at higher risk of lung cancer

More: HSE missed early opportunities to deal with missed cancers at Wexford hospital, report says

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