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Saving lives through early Diagnosis of Oesophageal Cancer

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Laurie Todd Foundation
at a Glance

We have 3 Objectives with The Laurie Todd Foundation

  1. Early diagnosis of Oesophageal Cancer

  2. Awareness Raising programme –
    Oesophageal Cancer primarily affects males aged 50-75

  3. 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.

  • 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 and contribute to reducing the death rate from Oesophageal Cancer.

Oesophageal Cancer Research

Our focus is on Earlier Diagnosis of Oesophageal Cancer.

Survival rates are very poor and Laurie died less than 2 months after diagnosis.

He was treated at both Kingston Hospital and the Marsden, both were excellent.

We have initially agreed to fund 2 years of a 3 year joint research project at Kingston Hospital/University.


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 (Source ?) . 

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:

  • Difficulty swallowing,

  • Persistent indigestion or heartburn,

  • Loss of appetite,

  • and Tiredness

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 males in Laurie’s age group.

The exact causes of oesophageal cancer are unknown, but the NHS lists the following that can increase risk.

  • Persistent acid reflux,

  • Smoking,

  • Being overweight,

  • 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

Newbury Race Course.jpg
Nurse Talking to Patient

Association of high risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types and gastrointestinal cancer

Laurie Todd Foundation is a named fund held within Kingston Hospital Charity – registered charity number 1056510

Improving early diagnosis

Contact Laurie Todd Foundation

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