April Is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month – If You Experience Difficulty Swallowing, Run Don’t Walk to Your Doctor, Please!

 

APRIL IS ESOPHAGEAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Since 2000 treatment and longer survival from esophageal cancer has improved significantly. Squamous cell and adenocarcinoma are the two groups of esophageal cancer.

In 2000, when my husband received his diagnosis (from acid re-flux disease) of Stage III adenocarcinoma at stomach junction (GE Junction), which included cancer visible inches into his stomach (called cardia), also known as distal junction, information about this cancer was minimal and optimistic survival time was not very optimistic.

By 2004, studies showed some advancement in epidemiology, etiology,diagnosis, staging, prevention and treatment, and possibilities for surgery. A stage IV in 2000 pretty much meant surgery not an option. Still in 2004 long-term prognosis remained somewhat poor.

In 2013, an article in the World Journal of Gastroenterology esophageal cancer was one of the least studied and deadliest cancers around the world.

Adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer sadly has earned a ranking of six in mortality among all the cancers. and its incidences have risen sharply. However, the good news is that  research into the causes and risks of this lethal cancer are also on the rise.

In 2015, The American Cancer Society, estimates about 16,980 new esophageal cancer cases will be diagnosed.( Men, 13,570 – Women, 3,410)

Now the survival is 20% of patients at diagnosis surviving five years and beyond. While in 2000, a whooping 5% of patients survived at least 5 years after diagnosis.

Of course, catch it early and the survival rate and perhaps even remission rise sharply.

Risk factors for esophageal adenocarcinoma are: Acid Re-flux, (GERD)  Barrett’s Esophagus, smoking, and obesity.

Although in an article, The Epidemiology of Esophageal Cancer, written in The World Journal of Gastroenterology, said, “no particular risk factor is responsible for the rising incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma.”

In our family, my husband’s uncle died from esophageal cancer.  Our youngest son, born with an acid re-flux issue, now in his thirties, he schedules medical monitoring, and watches his diet.

What preventive daily home measures can you take?

  • Quit Smoking
  • Eat Vegetables, raw vegetables are more protective than cooked vegetables.
  • Eat fruit
  • In both fruits and raw vegetables, vitamin E, C and Carotene are protective.
  • All that to say this… research to understand what foods, smoke and other ingested materials, affect the health or deteriorate the lining of the esophagus.

Again, hear me yelling, if you are having trouble swallowing get help immediately. Difficulty swallowing is what sent us running to the doctor for help.

Perhaps if we realized the swallowing issue was not just indigestion, my husband and I may have had a chance for more years together.