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Esophageal Cancer On the Rise

Prevention of Esophageal Cancer: Changing Habits for Hope

Prevention is the key for any form of cancer. Because esophageal cancer often spreads before it's detected, prevention is even more important.

There are many things you can do to lower your risk for esophageal cancer:

  • Quit tobacco! Stopping smoking will lower the risk for many cancers and other diseases, not just esophageal cancer
  • Limit alcohol to one to two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women
  • Eat a diet high in green and yellow vegetables, and a variety of fruits
  • Taking aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for other reasons may reduce the risk for esophageal cancer. Don't start a new medicine without talking to your doctor.

What about treating reflux symptoms? Since reflux and Barrett's esophagus cause esophageal cancer, it seems likely that treating reflux symptoms would prevent esophageal cancer. Surprisingly, there is so far no proof of this.

Nevertheless, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends:

  • Treatment of GERD symptoms, in the hope of preventing esophageal cancer;
  • Upper endoscopy in those with chronic GERD symptoms, and
  • Periodic upper endoscopy in those with Barrett's esophagus.

However, the National Cancer Institute recommends againstscreening the general population. Endoscopy can cause complications, and esophageal cancer is relatively rare. Screening everybody, they say, would probably create more problems than cures.

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Reviewed on February 01, 2007

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