This April as part of Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, the Minnesota Reflux & Heartburn Center is reminding people to learn the facts about esophageal cancer and become familiar with its symptoms and risk factors.
Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancer diagnoses in the United States, according to the Esophageal Cancer Action Network. Esophageal adenocarcinoma is typically found in the lower region of the esophagus, and has been linked to acid reflux. Over the last 35 years, doctors have seen a 600 percent increase in esophageal adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer that forms in the glandular cells. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 15,000 Americans die from esophageal cancer each year. Fewer than one in five patients survive five years after being diagnosed
Esophageal cancer is not entirely preventable, but knowing the risk factors and recognizing the symptoms can aid in early diagnosis, said Dr. Paul Severson, Reflux Specialist and Medical Director of the Minnesota Reflux & Heartburn Center. Risk factors for esophageal cancer include: obesity, smoking, alcohol usage, hiatal hernia, Barrett’s Esophagus and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).Common symptoms of esophageal cancer include: difficult or painful swallowing, weight loss, blood in the stool, loss of appetite, feeling very tired, heartburn (GERD), pain in the throat or back and hoarseness or coughing.
People experiencing symptoms of esophageal cancer or feel they may be at risk should schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. The Minnesota Reflux & Heartburn Center provides testing and therapies for patients with GERD, heartburn, and esophageal symptoms. With the latest training and equipment, specialists are also able to diagnose esophageal cancer and treat the cancer in early stages. Center specialists are available for appointments at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center’s Crosby and Baxter locations and at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin.