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Heartburn can lead to Esophageal Cancer
by Darren Miller
DeKalb Medical Center
April 08, 2014 11:47 AM | 2720 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month. This month is designated to promote education and awareness regarding this lethal cancer. Cancer of the lower esophagus is called adenocarcinoma and is caused by Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, commonly referred to as heartburn. Its frequency is increasing at an alarming rate, faster than any solid tumor ever measured. In fact, this frequency has increased almost 800 percent since 1975 and some have referred to this as an epidemic.

Once discovered, the overall death rate within five years of a diagnosis of esophageal cancer is 85 to 90 percent, while it is only about 20 percent for colon cancer. A premalignant change in the cells lining the esophagus, called Barrett’s esophagus, is present in 10-15% of people with the disease.

Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed by endoscopy and taking biopsies [small tissue samples] of areas of abnormal appearing tissue from the lining of the esophagus. We also know that if Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed and endoscopies are performed about every three years, if cancer then develops it will be diagnosed very early with a cure rate of nearly 90 percent compared to the overall cure rate of 10 to 15 percent. Better yet, these early cancers can often be treated without surgery with the latest technological developments. Additional risk factors, on top of Barrett’s esophagus are longstanding disease symptoms, more than five to 10 years, smoking and obesity. Also, the majority of these cancers develop in Caucasian males.

This awareness month is the time to spread the word and create awareness in the hopes that the rising death rate from esophageal cancer can be reduced.

The Heartburn Solutions Center at DeKalb Medical uses an integrated approach for the treatment of the disease and its symptoms. We have the latest state-of-the-art technologies, such as Esophageal Manometry and the 48 hour bravo pH study, to test the function of the esophagus, measure acid levels and evaluate for pre-cancerous conditions. We can then deliver treatment tailored specifically for you whether it is medication or the latest in minimally invasive surgery.

Pam Briggs, our specially trained nurse navigator, assures patients will have an outstanding experience by overseeing the scheduling and completion of your evaluation and treatment. Patients have one single point of contact supplying access, education, convenience and support throughout the entire process.

The center offers a full array of the disease treatments including medicinal, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery and has been selected as one of the first centers nationally to offer the revolutionary LINX reflux management device.

Those who have frequent symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation or trouble swallowing and would like to learn more about possible treatment options, call (404) 501-4844.

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