Antacids, like Tums, are one of the most profitable over-the-counter products. As many as 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day. Persistent heartburn (two or more times per week) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause stomach acid to splash into the esophagus, producing cellular changes that can ultimately result in cancer.
About three million Americans currently have a condition known as Barrett’s Esophagus, a precancerous condition that results in as much as a 125-fold increase in an individual’s chance to develop esophageal cancer. Often esophageal cancer is not discovered until it has reached advanced stages when treatment outcomes are very poor. Barrett’s Esophagus History & Physical Checklist
Early Detection Saves Lives
But the good news is that new medical techniques can virtually cure patients if their condition is detected at an early stage.
If you suffer heartburn two or more times per week over several weeks, talk with your doctor about whether you need an upper endoscopy or one of the newer technologies at NKCH’s GI Lab to determine if you are at risk for esophageal cancer.
- Esophageal Cancer is 3-4 times more common in men than women
- The incidence of Esophageal Cancer increases with age with eight out of 10 people diagnosed between ages 55 and 85
- Survival rates are improving: 45 years ago, only 4% of all Caucasian patients and 1% of all African-American patients survived at least 5 years after diagnosis. Now, 18% of white patients and 11% of African-American patients survive at least 5 years after diagnosis.