Persistent Heartburn May Be A Sign Of Cancer Campaign Warns
People with persistent heartburn are being urged to visit their GP as it may be a sign of cancer, according to a new campaign by Public Health England .
Heartburn is a burning chest pain or discomfort, which is usually worse after eating.
Although most people experience occasional heartburn, those suffering from heartburn most days over an extended period three weeks or more are being advised to visit their doctor.
The new ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign highlights two possible symptoms of oesophageal or stomach cancer collectively known as oesophago-gastric cancers persistent heartburn or difficulty swallowing food.
Cancer Research UK’s early diagnosis manager, Matthew Wickenden, stressed that while the chances that these symptoms are cancer are low, it’s still important to visit the doctor to get them checked.
Figures released by Public Health England showed that more than half of people would not visit their GP if they were experiencing heartburn for three weeks or more, while less than one in five people were certain that heartburn was a sign of cancer.
Other signs of oesophageal or stomach cancer include:
- indigestion on and off for three weeks or more
- feeling food sticking in your throat when you swallow
- losing weight for no obvious reason
- trapped wind and frequent burping
- feeling full very quickly when eating
- nausea or vomiting
- pain or discomfort in top of stomach
What Is Stomach Cancer
It’s relatively uncommon in the UK, with around 6,700 people diagnosed with it every year.
In addition to persistent heartburn, other warning signs include:
- Losing weight without trying to
- Feeling or being sick
- Having problems swallowing
- A lump at the top of your tummy
As the NHS points out, while many of these symptoms are likely to be caused by less serious underlying conditions, it’s important to get them checked by a GP.
“This is because if they’re caused by cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable,” notes the health website.
There are a number of risk factors that can heighten your risk of getting stomach cancer.
Some are unavoidable, depending on factors such as age and gender.
According to Cancer Research UK explains, around half of stomach cancers develop in people aged 75 or over and men are more likely to get the disease compared to women.
However, there are a number of risk factors tied to poor lifestyle decisions, suggesting that you can take steps to greatly reduce your risk of developing the deadly disease.
How Is Esophageal Cancer Treated
At the early stages, endoscopic resection and radiofrequency ablation are two highly effective and minimally invasive therapies that we offer here at Roswell Park. A simple esophagectomy may also be effective.
A combination of chemotherapy and radiation followed by surgery remains the standard treatment for esophageal cancer, but we are beginning to incorporate immunotherapy into treatment, either in addition to chemotherapy or as a way to prevent recurrence after surgery. So far, the results of these new immunotherapy approaches seem promising.
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When Gerd Progresses To Esophageal Cancer
GERD develops when acid that digests food in the stomach washes up into the esophagus. Often it occurs in people who overeat or who lie down too soon after eating. It may also be caused by defects in the valve that connects the esophagus to the stomach or by a condition called hiatal hernia, which is when the upper part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm and into the chest.
After someone has had GERD for many years, it can advance to a condition called Barretts esophagus. Barretts is a defensive mechanism of your esophagus, Dr. Molena explains. When the esophagus is bathed in acid all the time, it wants to protect itself, and so the cells in the lining begin to change. These changes can advance to become cancer.
When patients develop Barretts esophagus, their GERD symptoms often disappear. Its typical for patients with esophageal cancer to tell me that they suffered from GERD for years, but then it went away and they stopped taking their GERD medications, which would have actually reduced their cancer risk, Dr. Molena says.
Not everyone with GERD has the typical symptoms, which are heartburn and regurgitation soon after eating. Up to 20% may have different symptoms, such as coughing or chest pain, a sore throat or hoarse voice, or even frequent sinus infections. Its important to talk to your doctor about any of these.
These May Save Your Life
Many people with lung cancer show no signs or symptoms at the early stages of cancer development. But by looking back at what symptoms people diagnosed with lung cancer have reported, we can gain insight into some early warning signs people at high risk for lung cancer can look out for.
Early-stage lung cancer is more survivable than advanced cancers that have spread to other parts of the body. But because the lungs have very few nerve endings, they dont feel pain or other sensations, so early signs of lung cancer are hard to come by.
Depending on the type of lung cancer developing, early signs of lung cancer might include referred pain , chronic cough, breathing issues, and weight loss. Some of these symptoms are dependent on the type of cancer, and not every early case of lung cancer has all of these symptoms.
Most often, symptoms of lung cancer only show up as the tumor becomes more advanced. Even relatively large tumors dont always cause pain or discomfort.
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If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Breast
If you have radiation to the breast, it can affect your heart or lungs as well causing other side effects.
Short-term side effects
Radiation to the breast can cause:
- Skin irritation, dryness, and color changes
- Breast soreness
- Breast swelling from fluid build-up
To avoid irritating the skin around the breast, women should try to go without wearing a bra whenever they can. If this isnt possible, wear a soft cotton bra without underwires.
If your shoulders feel stiff, ask your cancer care team about exercises to keep your shoulder moving freely.
Breast soreness, color changes, and fluid build-up will most likely go away a month or 2 after you finish radiation therapy. If fluid build-up continues to be a problem, ask your cancer care team what steps you can take. See Lymphedema for more information.
Long-term changes to the breast
Radiation therapy may cause long-term changes in the breast. Your skin may be slightly darker, and pores may be larger and more noticeable. The skin may be more or less sensitive and feel thicker and firmer than it was before treatment. Sometimes the size of your breast changes it may become larger because of fluid build-up or smaller because of scar tissue. These side effects may last long after treatment.
After about a year, you shouldnt have any new changes. If you do see changes in breast size, shape, appearance, or texture after this time, tell your cancer care team about them right away.
Less common side effects in nearby areas
Other Rib Pain Causes
Exercise and sports can cause a lot of wear and tear on the body that you may sometimes feel in the chest area. This may be in the form of intense rib pain, bruising, or rib fractures.
Athletes like football players, lacrosse players, and boxers often receive hard hits to the chest. Sharp rib pain can also occur either during or shortly after running.
Athletes also experience an inflammatory disorder called Tietze syndrome, which affects the cartilage of the chest wall.
Rib cage pain is also caused by osteoporosis.
For some people with osteoporosis, the fracture of a vertebra can press a nerve against the rib and cause pain. Osteoporosis fractures can occur from a trauma like falling.
Besides rib pain, other common osteoporosis symptoms include back pain, a stooped posture, and easily broken bones.
Pain under the right rib cage can be attributed to gallbladder diseases like cholecystitis and cholelithiasis. The gallbladder is responsible for releasing and storing bile.
A sudden rib pain that occurs 30 minutes after eating may be a sign of gallstones. Gallbladder pain is often felt below the breastbone, and may extend to the right arm and between the shoulder blades.
This pain occurs when the gallbladder contracts in order to pump bile around the gallstones.
Bruising in the form of blood pooling under the skin is a sign of a ruptured spleen.
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What Can It Lead To
People with Barrett’s esophagus are anywhere from 30 to 125 times more likely to develop esophageal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
The longer a person has reflux, the higher the possibility that they’ll develop Barrett’s. These changes in the esophagus are one step closer to getting esophageal cancer one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States.
About 30 percent of esophageal cancers can be linked to GERD, according to the American Cancer Society. Because of increased fat consumption and obesity, the number of Americans with reflux is increasing, leading to a rise in esophageal cancer.
For 2009, the National Cancer Institute estimates 16,470 new cases of esophageal cancer and 14,530 deaths due to esophageal cancer in the United States. Esophageal cancer has such a high mortality because it is often diagnosed late.
If caught early, however, the cancer can be treated and removed before it spreads. For this reason, people with a precancerous condition such as Barrett’s esophagus require close medical follow-up.
Easy Screening May Help
If lung cancer is detected at an early stage, when there typically are no symptoms, its more likely to be successfully treated.
Low-dose computer tomography scans have been found to save more lives than chest X-rays when theyre used to screen people with a higher risk for lung cancer.
LDCT scans, which use low amounts of radiation, help identify abnormal areas in the lungs that could indicate cancer.
The American Cancer Societys lung cancer screening guidelines recommend annual LDCT scans for higher-risk people between the ages of 55 and 74 who meet each of the following conditions:
- currently smoke or have smoked within the past 15 years
- have a 30-pack-a-year or more smoking history
- receive counseling to help quit if a current smoker
- told by their healthcare provider of the benefits and harms of LDCT scans
- have access to a facility that performs lung cancer screening
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A Cough That Wont Quit Or Changes
Be on alert for a new cough that lingers. A cough associated with a cold or respiratory infection will go away in a week or so, but a persistent cough that lingers can be a symptom of lung cancer.
If youre coughing more often, your cough is deeper or sounds hoarse, or youre coughing up blood or an unusual amount of mucus, its time to make a doctors appointment.
If a family member or friend experiences these changes, suggest that they reach out to a doctor.
Lung Cancer Misdiagnosis And Delayed Diagnosis
Hearing the words you have lung cancer is life changing. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 222,500 adults in the United States will receive a lung cancer diagnosis in 2017. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
In most cases, the sooner a diagnosis is made, the better the prognosis. Unfortunately, in some instances, there is a delay in diagnosis. In a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, lung cancer was one of the top three cancers most often misdiagnosed.
Types of Lung Cancer
The two main types of lung cancer include non-small cell and small cell. Non-small cell is the most common lung cancer diagnosed, which according to the American Cancer Society, accounts for about 85 percent of all lung cancers. Non-small cell lung cancer is further classified into subtypes. Subtypes include adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
The second type of lung cancer is small cell, which accounts for about ten to 15 percent of lung cancers. The remaining types of lung cancers are classified as lung carcinoid tumors or adenoid cystic carcinomas.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Symptoms of lung cancer may vary in severity. Some people with early stage lung cancer may not have symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they may include:
- Persistent cough
- Chest pain
Causes of Lung Cancer
Negligent Delay in Lung Cancer Diagnosis
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Is Heartburn An Indication Of Cancer
It’s impossible to imagine just how bad heartburn really is until you’ve actually experienced it firsthand. It can be so painful that people go to the emergency room because they’re afraid they’re having a heart attack. Some people struggle with heartburn nearly every day, while others only experience it once in a great while. It’s estimated that heartburn strikes 15 million Americans daily. The number one concern most people after they’ve finally gotten some relief from the pain is what was the cause of the heartburn.
How Long Does It Take For Barretts Esophagus To Develop Into Cancer
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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The Link Between Ranitidine And Ndma
Laboratory testing conducted by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration revealed that the concentration of NDMA in ranitidine medications increases over time and with high temperatures. As a consequence, the FDA asked for a recall of the drugs. The FDA also advised consumers to stop taking any drugs containing ranitidine if possible.
Where Does Lung Cancer Cause Pain
The mortality rate of lung cancer is high since it is often caught lately, when it is less likely to respond the treatment. Sometime it can be painful, too. Since it originally grows in the lung, pain in the chest is the common symptom. It may also cause pain in other parts of the body, especially when it has become advanced!
Understanding cancer pain in general
Cancer pain is common, though not patients with cancer experience this discomfort symptom. Some types of cancer can be more painful.
Even though if the cancer doesnt directly cause pain, the discomfort may come from the treatment! About 1 out of 3 patients undergoing treatment for cancer experience pain and other discomfort symptoms.
The chance to have cancer pain increases if the cancer has become advanced. Even it can be more painful, too. However this can vary from patient to patient.
It occurs in many different ways. It may be achy, dull, or sharp. The intensity and severity vary, too which could be severe, moderate, mild, intermittent, or constant.
How does cancer pain occur? It can be a result from the cancer itself or other things associated with cancer .
In most cases, it is caused by the cancerous tumor pressing on nerves, bones, or particular organs in the body. Over time, tumor can grow and become large enough to cause more pressure on the surrounding tissues or organs.
At advanced stage, the pain can occur from the primary cancerous tumor itself or the secondary cancerous tumor .
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Symptom: Shortness Of Breath
Shortness of breath could also be a sign of lung cancer. If a lung cancer tumor is blocking a major airway, it could cause shortness of breath. Sometimes fluid in the lungs can make breathing difficult and this could also be a sign of lung cancer. See your doctor if you have shortness of breath that concerns you.
If Youre Getting Radiation Therapy To The Abdomen
If you are getting radiation to your stomach or some part of the abdomen , you may have side effects such as:
Eating or avoiding certain foods can help with some of these problems, so diet planning is an important part of radiation treatment of the stomach or abdomen. Ask your cancer care team about what you can expect, and what medicines you should take to help relieve these problems. Check with your cancer care team about any home remedies or over-the-counter drugs youre thinking about using.
These problems should get better when treatment is over.
Some people feel queasy for a few hours right after radiation therapy. If you have this problem, try not eating for a couple of hours before and after your treatment. You may handle the treatment better on an empty stomach. If the problem doesnt go away, ask your cancer care team about medicines to help prevent and treat nausea. Be sure to take the medicine exactly as you are told to do.
If you notice nausea before your treatment, try eating a bland snack, like toast or crackers, and try to relax as much as possible. See Nausea and Vomiting to get tips to help an upset stomach and learn more about how to manage these side effects.
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