Understanding the connection between frequent heartburn and cancer

(BPT) - If you are one of the millions of Americans with chronic heartburn, the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) wants you to think differently about your condition. It may indicate something far more serious — changes in the cells lining your esophagus that could lead to a common form of esophageal cancer, one of the most rapidly growing cancers in the U.S. Even if you take medication for your heartburn symptoms, disease can still develop. 

There’s more reason than ever to take action today. Gastroenterologists can now more reliably detect these changes in the cells when they are still harmless, and more easily treat or remove them before they can progress to cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, adenocarcinoma is the most common form of esophageal cancer in the U.S. and primarily affects white men over age 55. It is a growing health concern that is expected to increase in incidence over the next 10 years. Experts attribute this to the rise of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), associated with obesity and a high-stress lifestyle.

“There are plenty of men with chronic heartburn who reach for a pepperoni pizza with one hand and their heartburn medicine with the other. We want to encourage people with chronic heartburn, particularly white men over the age of 50, to see a gastroenterologist,” says Steven A. Edmundowicz, MD, FASGE, President of ASGE and Professor of Medicine and Interim Division Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado. “Everyone deserves the best possible protection against developing esophageal cancer.”

Visit www.PreventHeartburnCancer.org for information. For help finding a gastroenterologist near you, visit www.asge.org/home/for-patients.

The Prevent Heartburn Cancer campaign is sponsored by ASGE and funded through a partnership with CDx Diagnostics(R), the provider of WATS 3D(R) testing for still harmless, precancerous cells.

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