Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Reducing Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer Works!

Green ECG graph with green human stick figure


The two types of esophageal cancer are the seventh leading cause of death for US men. Esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.

The two types of esophageal cancer are esophageal adenocarcinoma and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.  Both appear to be caused by irritation of the lining of the esophagus which causes cellular changes in DNA. The exact cause of these cancers is unknown.

Adenocarcinomas (EAC) begin as changes in the music-secreting glands lining the esophagus, typically in the lower portion where it empties into the stomach. In the US it affects primarily white men.  Two-thirds of esophageal cancers in the United States are EAC. It is usually associated with obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) occurs in the thin flat cells lining the interior surface of the esophagus. It occurs mainly in the upper and middle portion of the esophagus tube, and is the most common esophageal cancer worldwide. It is most commonly associated with smoking and drinking alcohol.

A 2018 research study has shown that the incidence of ESCC in the US decreased significantly from the 2001 level to 2015. The same research also indicated a significant increase in EAC between 2001 and 2006.While the incidence of EAC was highest in Midwestern states, it increased the most rapidly in the Northeast.

It is suggested that the decrease in ESCC may be due to a rapid decrease in smoking. What this means is that reducing one of the risk factors for esophageal adenocarcinoma worked. EAC is treatable, and early detection can make a big difference in survival rates. For more information on esophageal cancer detection and treatment: https://www.cancer.gov/types/esophageal/patient/esophageal-treatment-pdq

Prevention always has better outcomes than treatment. Let’s make a better effort to reduce the risk factors for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma by treating GERD adequately and reducing obesity.

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