Reflux disease can lead to Esophageal Cancer. Throat clearing, sore throat, hoarse voice, persistent cough, choking when you lie down, even tooth erosion are among the lesser-known symptoms of GERD. Heartburn is the one symptom everybody knows.
For many Americans, these symptoms are their only warning that they are at risk for cancer.
This is GERD Awareness Week – designated to coincide with the gluttony of Thanksgiving. But you don’t have to overeat to experience GERD and the risk it can pose to your health.
Pills May Not Be the Answer
Too many see heartburn as a fact of life and use over-the-counter medications to ease their symptoms. Unfortunately, symptom relief doesn’t eliminate damage the backflow of stomach acid and bile can cause.
Medicine doesn’t stop the spray of caustic stomach contents that can cause a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett’s Esophagus. That happens when the lining of your esophagus changes to resemble your stomach. For some, it results in a deadly progression to Esophageal Cancer.
Don’t Ignore the Alarm
Barrett’s Esophagus causes no symptoms. That means GERD symptoms may be your only warning – and could be key to saving your life!
When caught early, Esophageal Cancer can be prevented. Outpatient procedures can eliminate the Barrett’s tissue and stop the cancer before it starts.
Are You At Risk?
Millions of Americans have Barrett’s Esophagus right now – and don’t know it.
Too often, as was the case for my husband, patients with Esophageal Cancer don’t discover they have a problem until they suddenly can’t swallow. Once they reach that point, survival becomes elusive. Only one in five people diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer will survive five years.
That’s because this disease is usually caught so late that treatment is rarely effective.
But it can be caught early – and prevented.
Easy to Get Checked
For the first time, American patients can now easily discover their risk. A quick swallow of the pill-sized EsoCheck device gives an easy and affordable check of their esophagus. The EsoGuard test uses DNA to assess the presence of Barrett’s Esophagus.
The tests are available in doctors’ offices and at screening centers in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, and Salt Lake City – with more locations planned in months to come. Learn more at EsoGuard.com.
Thankfully, most people with GERD won’t develop cancer.
But this is not a disease you dare to leave to chance.
Getting checked is the greatest gift you can give those you love.
Just ask the thousands of families like mine that Esophageal Cancer has left with an empty seat during the holidays.
Mindy Mintz Mordecai is the founder of the Esophageal Cancer Action Network, Inc. (ECAN). She lost her husband to Esophageal Cancer when their children were just nine and twelve.