Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month
April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about this deadly disease and encourage people to take preventative measures against it. Esophageal cancer is a rare form of cancer that affects the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. It is a difficult cancer to detect and treat, which is why raising awareness about it is so important.
Esophageal cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the world, and it is more common in men than women. There are two types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma is more common in developing countries and is linked to smoking and alcohol use. Adenocarcinoma is more common in developed countries and is linked to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
One of the challenges with esophageal cancer is that it often goes undiagnosed until it has reached an advanced stage. Symptoms of esophageal cancer can include difficulty swallowing, weight loss, chest pain, and persistent cough. These symptoms can be easily overlooked or mistaken for other conditions. That’s why it’s important to be aware of your risk factors for esophageal cancer and to talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Risk Factors: Esophageal Cancer
There are several risk factors for esophageal cancer, including smoking, alcohol use, obesity, and GERD. GERD is a condition where stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation. Over time, this can lead to a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer. Other risk factors for esophageal cancer include a diet high in processed meats and low in fruits and vegetables, as well as a family history of the disease.
If you are at risk for esophageal cancer, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk. Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol use can help reduce your risk of developing esophageal cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can also help reduce your risk. If you suffer from GERD, it’s important to talk to your doctor about treatment options to manage your symptoms and reduce your risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus.
Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month is a time to honor those who have been affected by the disease and to support ongoing research efforts to find a cure. It’s also a time to educate ourselves and others about the risk factors and symptoms of esophageal cancer, and to encourage everyone to take action to reduce their risk. Together, we can raise awareness about this deadly disease and work towards a future where esophageal cancer is no longer a threat to our health and wellbeing.
If you have questions about Esophageal Cancer support in Missoula or Western Montana, please feel free to reach out to our board certified surgeons.