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Improving the odds of esophageal cancer

Patients with chronic acid reflux are not only uncomfortable, but they may also be at risk for Barrett’s Esophagus (BE), a condition that occurs when stomach acid damages the esophagus, causing lesions that may lead to cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate of esophageal cancer with early detection is 20%. That number drops to a startling 5% when found in late stages, so early detection is key.

Uy-Pearl_72-dpi.jpg“As April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness month, we would like to shine a light on the importance of screenings for BE,” says Pearl Uy, MD, gastroenterologist, Northern Light Gastroenterology. “If damage is found during an upper endoscopy, an innovative procedure called radiofrequency ablation can treat the damage and reduce the risk of cancer. When we can improve the odds of patients developing cancer, we can give hope to our patients and help them live longer lives.”

Patients most at risk of developing esophageal cancer have gastroesophageal reflux disease and three or more of the following markers: male, 50 or more years old, tobacco smoker, obesity, and a family history of BE, or a close relative with esophageal cancer. In fact, half of the deaths from esophageal cancer in the US are associated with cigarette smoking, and a third with obesity.

Dr. Uy is available to help patients who are already diagnosed with BE with precancerous abnormalities. Primary care providers may make a referral for an upper endoscopy with radiofrequency ablation with Northern Light Gastroenterology in Bangor by calling 207.973.4266.