Acid Reflux can lead to Esophageal Cancer

Digestive experts to speak on May 7 urge reflux sufferers not to ignore symptoms

Apr 18, 2011

Cortlandt Manor, NY

People who suffer from acid reflux may not know that the disease is a ticking time bomb that can lead to cancer.

Symptoms of acid reflux disease such as heartburn, soreness or burning in the throat or chest can be the first signs of esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer diagnosis, according to the Esophageal Cancer Action Network.

April is esophageal cancer awareness month. More than 20 states including New York have designated this month to esophageal cancer awareness. People are urged to see their doctors if they suspect that they have acid reflux.

"Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause stomach acid to splash into the esophagus, producing cellular changes that can ultimately result in cancer," said Klaus Thaler, MD, Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital. "It’s important for people with GERD to be evaluated by a physician because early detection is key to dealing with any form of cancer."

Dr. Thaler and Dr. Eric Teitel will hold a patient education seminar on the symptoms of GERD or Acid Reflux on May 7 from 10-11:30 a.m. The free program is being held at the NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group/Hudson Valley offices at 2050 Saw Mill River Road, Yorktown Heights, 2nd floor. A light breakfast will be served.

Dr. Thaler’s clinical work and research focus is laparoscopic and endoscopy surgery of the digestive tract including single incision laparoscopy and Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES). Dr. Thaler’s work is published in over one hundred peer reviewed papers and six books and he has given more than 50 lectures at national and international societies in recent years.

Dr. Teitel, a gastroenterologist and Chairman of the Department of Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital, said later this month, the Hospital is expected to add a new high- resolution mapping system that will aid in the detection and diagnosis of diseases of the esophagus.

Currently only 1 in 5 people diagnosed with esophageal cancer live five years or longer. "That’s because often times the disease is not diagnosed until the later stages," said Teitel. "That is why it is so important to be properly evaluated."

As many as 15 million Americans experience heartburn every day. About 3 million Americans currently have Barrett’s Esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition that greatly increases the chances of developing esophageal cancer. Often esophageal cancer is not discovered until it has reached advanced stages.