According to researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, adenocarcinoma of the esophagus is one of the quickest rising cancers in U.S. men, driven by obesity and acid reflux.
The study titled “Esophageal Carcinoma” and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, reviews the most recent updates in risk factors, pathogenesis, prevention, diagnosis and therapy of the two main subsets of esophageal cancer, esophageal adenocarcinoma and squamous-cell carcinoma, focusing on recent advances.
“It’s important to remember that the risk factors (obesity and acid reflux) are potentially modifiable,” study’s senior author Dr. Hashem El-Serag, chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Baylor, said in a news release.
Even though esophageal cancer is not common amongst younger people, its risk increases with age, reaching its peak at around 70 to 80 years of age. Furthermore, men have a higher probability (3 to 4 times) of developing this malignancy, when compared to women.
In the study, the authors explain how suffering from acid reflux on a daily or weekly basis can influence the probability of developing this type of malignancy. Importantly, the authors show that abdominal obesity is also a risk factor for the development of Barrett’s esophagus (a lesion that leads to adenocarcinoma) and cancer, since elevated pressure in the abdominal area results in an upward movement of the stomach, resulting in and increasing the intensity of acid reflux.
“People who are obese or have chronic acid reflux should consider having an endoscopy to be screened for Barrett’s or adenocarcinoma,” Dr. El-Serag added.
In individuals who suffer from Barrett’s esophagus and proceed to develop a malformation called dysplasia, radiofrequency ablation could aid in the prevention of cancer progression, since a significant percentage (86%) of all dysplasia diagnosis who are treated with this technique do not progress into adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.
“Radiofrequency ablation can be done endoscopically by a gastroenterologist,” Dr. El-Serag explained. “This reduces the risk of cancer and has proven safe and effective.”