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Cancer Care
Pinnacle > Cancer Care > April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month View modes: 
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YourNurseNavigator - April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month 4/1/2013 10:13:30 AM

April is designated as Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month and I have listed some facts about Esophageal Cancer that may surprise you.

According to the  American Institute for Cancer Research ©2013

  • Nearly 17,500 new cases of esophageal cancer occur annually.  The vast majority of these cases – nearly 14,000 – occur in men, while approximately 3,500 occur in women.
  • Esophageal cancer will claim over 15,000 lives this year alone.
  • As obesity rates have increased, the number of cases of esophageal cancer have increased as well.

There are some modifiable risk factors for preventing this cancer and I list them below.

Weight: If you are obese, your risk for esophageal cancer is nearly twice that of a person who is at a healthy weight.

Alcohol: Generally, risk for esophageal cancer increases as alcohol consumption increases; the strongest link is seen with “hard” liquors (gin, vodka, scotch, etc.). There is evidence that among some populations (those of East Asian descent) the increase in risk is more pronounced.

Smoking: Both current and former smokers increase their risk of contracting esophageal cancer. For squamous cell esophageal cancer, which makes up between 20 and 50 percent of US cases, current smokers increase their risk five-fold.

If you have any of these risk factors and are experiencing heartburn or GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) please discuss screening for esophageal cancer with your healthcare professional.  As with most cancer diagnoses, early detection leads to better outcomes.
©2013 American Institute for Cancer Research

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dreabeck - RE:April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month 4/1/2013 10:30:39 AM
Wow- interesting information.  I've never heard very much about esophageal cancer.  What kind of screening would be done if I have GERD? Are there other symptoms to look for?

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YourNurseNavigator - RE:April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month 4/1/2013 11:33:43 AM
Thank you for your interest dreabeck. The following information is from the American Cancer Society and contains the most recent evidence based guidelines....

Testing for people at high risk

Many experts recommend that people with a high risk of esophageal cancer, such as those with Barrett's esophagus, have upper endoscopy regularly. For this test, the doctor looks at the inside of the esophagus through a flexible lighted tube called an endoscope. The doctor may remove small samples of tissue (biopsies) from the area of Barrett’s so that they can be checked to see if they contain any abnormal cells (including cancer cells). They will also get tissue samples from any areas that look more abnormal.

Doctors are not certain how often the test should be repeated, but most recommend testing more often if areas of abnormal cells (called dysplasia) are found. This testing is repeated even more often if there is high-grade dysplasia (the cells appear very abnormal).

Careful monitoring and treatment (if needed) may help prevent some esophageal cancers from developing. It may also detect some cancers early, when they are more likely to be treated successfully.