Laurie Todd FOUNDATION
Saving lives through early Diagnosis of Oesophageal Cancer
Laurie Todd Foundation
at a Glance
The Laurie Todd Foundation exists to reduce the number of lives cut short by oesophageal cancer.
Our key objectives are to
Raise funds for essential research into Oesophageal Cancer
Improve early diagnosis of Oesophageal Cancer
Raise awareness – through GP training and public communication programme
Develop an eventual screening programme
Oesophageal cancer is both dreaded and not discussed much.
Cases of oesophageal cancer have risen by more than 40% in the last 40 years.
It is the fastest rising solid organ cancer in the UK– around 8000 people died of the disease in 2019
It particularly affects middle aged and older men (aged 50-75)
Survival rates are much worse than other cancers e.g. 5 year survival in oesophageal cancer is 15% (versus 90% in breast cancer).
People are often diagnosed very late which means curative treatment is not possible.
As the Laurie Todd Foundation we wish to support organisations involved in research, development of treatment and screening programmes that contribute to reducing the death rate from Oesophageal Cancer.
We are funding 2 years of a 3 year joint research project at Kingston Hospital/University.
Our primary efforts this year are on raising the funds for this project.
Survival rates for Oesophageal Cancer are very poor and Laurie, like so many others, died less than 2 months after diagnosis.
About Oesophageal Cancer
Oesophageal Cancers are the 8th most common cancer worldwide and the 6th most common cause of cancer death with only 15% surviving 5 years ( Source MRC Cancer Unit).
Over 9,000 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer every year in the UK, (Source Royal Marsden Cancer Unit)
Information on the optimal treatment of patients with oesophageal cancers is badly needed given that they account for 7701 deaths per year in the UK (Source Cancer Research UK)
There is a real need for more effective treatments, as the average survival rate for people with gastro-oesophageal cancers is just under one year with standard treatment.
Early diagnosis has been recognised by NHS England as a key strategic priority in cancer.
There are many and varied signs of early oesophageal cancer, however, there is a significant lack of ‘alarm’ symptoms.
Oesophageal Cancers are most common in males age 50-75 years old.
Relatively little research is carried out to better understand how these cancers develop, and how to translate this understanding to the clinic. The renowned MRC cancer unit in Cambridge is one of only a few centres worldwide whose mission is to address this priority.
Research and trials are ongoing into DNA damage response, novel immunotherapy, blood vessel targeting and DNA damage repair agents within its treatment arms’ with the eventual aim to ‘develop personalised treatment pathways based on a patients individual cancer biology’ (Source Royal Marsden )
There is huge potential for improving survival rates for oesophageal cancer if only people were diagnosed at an earlier more curable stage.
Research into Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the breath of patients as a sign of oesophageal cancer, is being undertaken at Royal Marsden.
It is well known that Oesophageal cancer does not usually have ‘any symptoms at first’ (NHS) and as in Laurie’s case, is usually diagnosed too late. The symptoms are:
Persistent indigestion or heartburn,
Loss of appetite,
The advice to contact your GP if you have any other unusual symptoms.
We believe stress was a factor in masking the possible symptoms and we are interested in understanding more about stress and other factors in the lifestyle of middle aged males.
The exact causes of oesophageal cancer are unknown, but the NHS lists the following that can increase risk.
Persistent acid reflux,
Too much alcohol over many years,
Unhealthy diet that’s low in fruit and vegetables
Laurie only managed one treatment of chemotherapy, but treatment can involve surgery, if discovered early enough, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
Ways We Help
Raising awareness, Raising funds for research, GP Education