Castle to Castle challenge in aid of oesophageal cancer research

Cool FM's Pete Snodden and Dr Inder Mainie giving sound support to Helen Setterfield, chairperson of the Osophageal Patients Association (NI). The charity is holding a 110 mile Cycle Challenge from Carrickfergus Castle to Ballycastle and back on June 17th and 18th. Picture Bill Smyth.
Cool FM's Pete Snodden and Dr Inder Mainie giving sound support to Helen Setterfield, chairperson of the Osophageal Patients Association (NI). The charity is holding a 110 mile Cycle Challenge from Carrickfergus Castle to Ballycastle and back on June 17th and 18th. Picture Bill Smyth.

Carrickfergus will be the starting point for a 110-mile cycle ride in aid of cancer research.

The Castle to Castle Challenge will involve a cycle ride between Carrickfergus Castle and Ballycastle and back.

Every year over 200 people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. Survival rates are relatively low. The latest statistics show that 83% of patients diagnosed at a late stage will die within five years.

Sufferers will have difficulty swallowing or persistent heartburn. This type of cancer affects mostly men who often ignore the signs or treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medicines. One person in five with a diagnosis is aged between 40 and 60.

Oesophageal cancer is a tumour in the gullet which is the long tube that transfers food from the throat to the stomach. The causes of this type of cancer are typically reflux, smoking, excess alcohol and being overweight.

The Oesophageal Patients Association (NI) has organised the challenge to raise £15,000 for the purchase of specialist equipment for the treatment of early oesophageal, stomach and rectal cancers at Belfast City Hospital.

The equipment - a first for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - will provide a significant step forward in the treatment of certain cancers with early tumours being removed in one piece without the need for major surgery.

Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist Dr Inder Mainie said: “This equipment will allow us to grade the cancer more precisely. Patients should be discharged from hospital between 24 and 48 hours after the procedure.

“Japan has been using this equipment for a number of years and its data shows the survival and outcomes are better in these patients. I am hopeful that people here will see the same benefits.”

Cool FM presenter Pete Snodden is giving his full support to the initiative. His father Jackie died of oesophageal cancer three years ago.

He said: “When my father was diagnosed, I had never heard of this cancer. Watching how dad suffered has scarred me and will do for the rest of my life. I would encourage everyone to help OPANI and Dr Mainie in whatever way they can.”

The fundraiser will take place on Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18. More details are available from the Oesophageal Patients Association (NI) on www.opani.org