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Can Heartburn Cause Esophageal Cancer

What Is Esophageal Cancer

GERD, or Acid Reflux, can cause esophageal cancer.

Esophageal cancer is a malignant tumor that can appear anywhere along the length of your esophagus and can affect the deep tissues and muscles of the esophagus. Most esophageal cancers can be categorized as one of two types. The most common type is esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is related to GERD. And the second type is squamous cell carcinoma, which is linked to smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Its a relatively uncommon cancer, but its often caught in later stages, making the five-year survival rate rather low, explains Deepak Agrawal, MD, MPH, who is a board-certified gastroenterologist and serves as the Medical Director of Digestive Health as well as Chief of both Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Dell Medical School.

During the early stages of esophageal cancer, you may not experience any signs of symptoms, but as the cancer progresses, new symptoms will likely appear.

Symptoms of esophageal cancer may include:

  • Blood in stool
  • Food traveling back up the esophagus
  • Heartburn
  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing
  • Unintended weight loss

These symptoms often appear slowly, are not always specific to esophageal cancer, and are often ignored for some time, all of which allow the cancer to progress.

How Is Barretts Esophagus Diagnosed

Barrett’s esophagus is usually diagnosed through an upper endoscopy. A small piece of the tissue is removed from the esophagus, and a biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis. The pathology report will also reveal the presence or absence of dysplasia, or in rare cases, cancerous cells in the esophagus.

What Happens At The Gp Appointment

The GP may feel your neck and tummy.

They might arrange for you to have a blood test.

The GP may refer you to see a specialist in hospital for more tests if they think you have a condition that needs to be investigated.

The GP may also refer you straight to hospital for a test to look inside your oesophagus.

This may be an urgent referral, usually within 2 weeks, if you have certain symptoms. This does not definitely mean you have cancer.

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Can Esophageal Cancer Be Prevented

Although esophageal cancer cannot be prevented, controlling the risk factors, such as tobacco and alcohol use, may help reduce the risk of developing the disease.

A study has indicated that people with Barretts esophagus who are treated with radiofrequency ablation are less likely to develop esophageal cancer.

What Causes Esophageal Cancer

Why You Shouldnt Ignore GERD  What Causes Gerd

We do not yet know exactly what causes most esophageal cancers. However, there are certain risk factors that make getting esophageal cancer more likely.

Scientists believe that some risk factors, such as the use of tobacco or alcohol, may cause esophageal cancer by damaging the DNA in cells that line the inside of the esophagus. Long-term irritation of the lining of the esophagus, as happens with reflux, Barretts esophagus, achalasia, Plummer-Vinson syndrome, or scarring from swallowing lye, may also lead to DNA damage.

Cancer is caused by changes in the DNA inside our cells. DNA is the chemical in each of our cells that makes up our genes which control how our cells function. We usually look like our parents because they are the source of our DNA. But DNA affects more than how we look.

Some genes control when cells grow, divide into new cells, and die.

  • Certain genes that help cells grow, divide, and stay alive are called oncogenes.
  • Genes that help keep cell division under control or cause cells to die at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes.

Cancers can be caused by DNA mutations that turn on oncogenes or turn off tumor suppressor genes. This leads to cells growing out of control. Changes in many different genes are usually needed to cause esophageal cancer.

The DNA of esophageal cancer cells often shows changes in many different genes. However, its not clear if there are specific gene changes that can be found in all esophageal cancers.

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How Do You Get Esophageal Cancer

We dont know the exact causes of this type of cancer, but we do believe it develops because of damage to the cells of the esophagus, the tube leading from the throat to the stomach. We know this because certain lifestyle factors, such as tobacco use or frequent heartburn, tend to increase a persons risk of getting esophageal cancer.

Heartburns Burn And The Risk For Esophageal Cancer

contributed by Kim Zapor, R.N., BSN, OCN, CBCN., Cancer AnswerLine nurse

Heartburn. It’s a symptom that many people experience on a regular basis. What many people don’t realize is that long-term heartburn can put them at risk for esophageal cancer. The esophagus is the long tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Reflux of stomach acid over the long haul can damage the lining of the esophagus, which can lead to cancer.

Dr. Mark Orringer, professor of thoracic surgery at the University of Michigan, and a pioneer in esophageal surgery, has seen a change over the last three decades in the type of patient developing esophageal cancer. Once primarily found in individuals who drank alcohol and smoked excessively, it is now seen in greater numbers with those suffering from obesity, coupled with reflux.

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Heartburn Bloating And Belching

Bloating, belching and heartburn after eating can be caused by consuming particularly fatty or oily foods. When it comes to drinks, carbonated or alcoholic beverages can lead to excess gas and bloating. Equally, wearing tight or restrictive clothing around your waistline may exacerbate the problem further, so it may be a good idea to wear loose clothing while eating.5 You should not try to relieve gas by belching, as this can make heartburn worse as it causes more acid to rise in your throat.6 Find out more about the causes of heartburn so you can identify your personal triggers.

How Do Doctors Diagnose A Heart Attack And Heartburn

Heartburn, Reflux and GERD: Preventing the Progression to Esophageal Cancer

Most people with heartburn are diagnosed by their symptoms that they describe to their primary care doctor. However, definitive diagnosis of heartburn may be made by endoscopy and pH probe data, which is frequently done by gastroenterologists. However, it is common practice for doctors to rule out heart attack or any other pending cardiac problem to make sure the individual is not suffering from a potentially life-threatening problem.

The two main tests to diagnose heart attack are an EKG and a test to determine the level of certain enzymes in the blood . Additional tests for a heart attack can be done by echocardiogram, chest X-rays, coronary catheterization , and exercisestress tests.

Heartburn Treatment

The treatment for heartburn is varies with the severity of the disease that causes heartburn. Some people can treat heartburn with diet modifications, for example, avoiding acid causing foods such as chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods, carbonated drinks and citrus.

People with mild heartburn may only need only antacids over-the-counter occasionally, for example, Tums or Rolaids to relieve heartburn symptoms.

Moderate to more severe heartburn disease may require histamine receptor antagonists , protein pump inhibitors that reduce stomach acid production, for example, esomeprazole or omeprazole , or even surgery .

Heart Attack Treatment

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How Is Esophageal Cancer Treated

The type of treatment depends in part on the stage of the cancer. The main treatments for esophageal cancer are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, or a combination:

  • Surgery. In the early stages of cancer, your surgeon can remove the tumor completely. Sometimes this can be done with the aid of an endoscope. If the cancer has spread to deeper tissue layers, it may be necessary to remove the cancerous portion of your esophagus and reattach the remaining portions. In more serious cases, your surgeon may also remove the upper portion of your stomach and/or your lymph nodes.
  • Radiation. Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. Radiation can either be directed at the cancerous area from outside of your body or it can be administered from within your body. Radiation can be used before or after surgery and is most commonly used in combination with chemotherapy for people with esophageal cancer.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the use of drug treatment to kill cancer cells. This is often administered either before or after surgery or in combination with radiation.

You and your doctor will determine what treatment plan is best for you. You will likely be referred to a specialist to coordinate your treatment. This could be a gastroenterologist, a thoracic surgeon, a radiation oncologist, or a medical oncologist.

National Cancer Institute :

Progression To Esophageal Cancer

A small percentage of people with Barretts esophagus will develop cancer, and the number of cases in North America is rising.

Identifying cancer early really improves patient care and outcomes, says surgeon Richard Battafarano, M.D., Ph.D.

Cancer that has not spread to lymph nodes can be removed using minimally invasive endoscopic techniques. When the cancer is more advanced, surgical removal is required. In advanced cases, often when patients hadnt shown symptoms or been treated before the cancers discovery, chemotherapy or radiation treatments may be required before surgery.

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What Is The Outlook For People With Esophageal Cancer

The chance of recovery depends on the stage of the cancer and the persons general health. If caught early, esophageal cancer can often be successfully treated.

Unfortunately, esophageal cancer usually is not discovered until it has progressed to an advanced stage, when treatment is less successful.

Eating As The Only Cause

How is GERD Related to Esophageal Cancer?

Dr. Mai adds, Another fact to be aware of is that so-called nutcracker esophagus or diffuse esophageal spasm can cause intense chest pain, usually associated with acid reflux after meals and not typically during exercise.

Dr. Maiis well-versed in the endoscopic treatment of GERD. LifeBridge Health provides the Baltimore community and beyond with a wide array of choices in health care services.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.

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Heartburn Can Cause Esophageal Cancer

My family has a history of stomach problems. My Dad had bleeding ulcers on several occasions so, when I started to have heartburn on a regular basis, I thought it was just part of my heritage. I didnt know that heartburn can cause esophageal cancer but, in my case, thats exactly what happened.

Heartburn for over 25 years

For years I had recurring bouts of heartburn. I would take an over-the-counter antacid, and the problem would go away. Since the heartburn didnt immediately return, I thought the antacid had handled the problem.When I started to have heartburn more frequently , I attributed it to stress at work and eating late at night. I continued to take an over-the-counter remedy and, as before, the problem would go away.This pattern continued for 25 years and never once during that time did I hear that heartburn can cause esophageal cancer. Even though I read the newspaper regularly and saw many advertisements on television, I never learned that heartburn can cause esophageal cancer.

Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer
Heartburn can cause esophageal cancer
ECEF was founded to fight this disease

If you only take away one thing from this video, please remember: heartburn can cause esophageal cancer.Thank you,

Is It Gas Pain Or A Heart Problem

Its perfectly normal to pass gas between 10 and 20 times a day. At the same time, its understandable to be worried if you feel chest pain after eating a meal. After all, if its gas, arent you supposed to feel it in your gut, not near your heart?

While you may be simply feeling the sensation of gas pain in your chest, this pain could also indicate a serious heart issue. Learn how to determine if you or a loved one needs to seek medical attention.

Please note, if you are still unsure if you are experiencing gas pain or a heart problem after reading this article, play it safe and go to the nearest emergency room to receive care.

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How Is Barrett’s Esophagus Diagnosed

The only way to confirm the diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus is with a test called an upper endoscopy. This involves inserting a small lighted tube through the throat and into the esophagus to look for a change in the lining of the esophagus.

While the appearance of the esophagus may suggest Barrett’s esophagus, the diagnosis can only be confirmed with small samples of tissue obtained through the endoscope. A pathologist will examine the tissue to make the diagnosis.

Tobacco Using Any Kind Of Tobacco Has Been Linked To The Development Of Esophageal Cancer Tobacco Use Combined With Drinking Alcohol Increases The Risk Of Developing Esophageal Cancer More Than Either Risk Factor Alone

Acid Reflux Can Lead To Esophageal Cancer


The risk of developing both squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus increases the longer and the more you smoke.

Smoking causes both SCC and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, but smokers are more likely to develop SCC. Smokers have a much higher risk of developing SCC of the esophagus than non-smokers. The more you smoke, the greater your risk is of developing SCC of the esophagus.

Researchers have shown that the risk of developing SCC of the esophagus decreases after you stop smoking. For adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, the risk is lower in former smokers than in current smokers, but it is not clear how much a persons risk decreases after they stop smoking.

Pipes and cigars

People who smoke pipes and cigars have a higher risk of developing SCC of the esophagus.

Smokeless tobacco

Researchers have shown that smokeless tobacco increases the risk for both SCC and adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.

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Treating Gerd Permanently To Prevent Esophageal Cancer

Did you know that people who experience acid reflux might be at risk for esophageal cancer? This post explores the link between gastroesophageal reflux disease and esophageal cancer, and why you might want to talk with a surgeon at the AdventHealth Digestive Institute Tampa if youve been diagnosed with GERD and have been on medications for it longer than a few weeks. By permanently treating GERD, some esophageal cancers can be prevented. However, if patients do develop cancer, the advanced foregut surgeon, Sharona Ross, MD, FACS, at the AdventHealth Digestive Institute Tampa offer minimally invasive surgical treatments for esophageal cancer that have been found to improve survival rates.

Complications Of Untreated Gerd And Esophagitis

If GERD and esophagitis symptoms arent brought under control, your stomach acid may continue to further damage your esophagus. Over time, repeated damage might lead to the following complications:

  • Narrowing of the esophagus: This is called esophageal stricture and may be caused by scar tissue resulting from GERD or tumors. You may experience difficulty swallowing or food getting caught in your throat.
  • Esophageal rings: These are rings or folds of abnormal tissue that form in the lower lining of the esophagus. These bands of tissue may constrict the esophagus and cause trouble swallowing.
  • Barretts esophagus: This is a condition in which the cells in the lining of the esophagus are damaged from stomach acid and change to become similar to the cells lining the small intestine. This is a rare condition and you may feel no symptoms, but it can increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.

All three of these complications can be avoided with proper treatment for frequent heartburn or GERD.

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The Link Between Heartburn And Cancer

The cells lining the esophagus may change when exposed to acid for long periods of time. In an attempt to protect themselves from the acid, they begin to resemble the cells of the stomach. When this happens, itâs a condition known as Barrettâs esophagus.

Barrettâs esophagus is one of the biggest risk factors for developing esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer is relatively rare, making up just 1% of new cancer cases. But, the survival rate is low. Esophageal cancer only has a 20% 5-year survival rate.

How Long Does It Take For Barretts Esophagus To Develop Into Cancer

Esophageal Cancer must be addressed immediately. Click to ...

Barretts esophagus increases your risk of developing adenocarcinoma, the most common type of esophageal cancer. But if Barretts esophagus does turn into cancer, it is a slow process that takes several years.

Roswell Park has a screening program for high-risk patients with GERD and Barretts esophagus so that we can monitor them closely for any signs of cancer. If we find any signs of cancer during these yearly or twice-yearly screenings, we can easily intervene using minimally invasive procedures.

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Heartburn Raises Odds For Esophageal Larynx Cancers

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 22, 2021 — People with chronic heartburn may face increased risks of several rare types of cancer, a large U.S. government study shows.

Researchers found that among more than 490,000 Americans aged 50 and up, those with gastroesophageal reflux disease had about twice the risk of developing cancers of the esophagus or larynx .

GERD, or acid reflux, occurs when stomach acids chronically escape into the esophagus, which is the muscular tube connecting the throat and the stomach. The most common symptom is heartburn.

The condition is exceedingly common, affecting an estimated 20% of Americans, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health .

GERD has long been established as a risk factor for esophageal adenocarcinoma, which, in the United States, is the most common type of tumor arising in the esophagus.

The new study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Cancer, links GERD to a second type of esophageal cancer — called squamous cell carcinoma — as well as laryngeal cancer, which arises in the voice box.

Experts stressed that the absolute risk is low: The vast majority of people with GERD will never develop the cancers, all of which are fairly rare.

“Our findings should not alarm people diagnosed with GERD,” said Christian Abnet, a researcher with the U.S. National Cancer Institute who led the study.

Why would heartburn matter when it comes to cancer?


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