Press Release

April Is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

 

Gov. Paul LePage has issued a letter of appreciation for those who are working to raise awareness of esophageal cancer. In his letter, Gov. LePage stated, “I would like to encourage Maine citizens to help raise awareness of Esophageal Cancer prevention. When this cancer is detected early, new treatment procedures have a very high cure rate. More lives will be saved as people spread the word of early detection and treatment.”

Esophageal Cancer is one of the fastest growing cancer diagnoses in the United States – up more than 400 percent in the past 20 years. Fewer than one in five who are diagnosed will survive as long as five years. In the U.S. this devastating disease is usually caused by persistent heartburn or gastro-esophageal reflux disorder (GERD). Many are shocked to learn that heartburn can cause cancer. Nationally, someone dies of this disease every 36 minutes.

The designation of April as Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month is part of an ongoing movement across the country to bring attention to this often ignored disease. Families across the nation who have been touched by esophageal cancer are working with the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN) to raise public awareness of the fact that:

• Heartburn can cause cancer. It is estimated that in the U.S. esophageal cancer is caused by heartburn or reflux disease 90 percent of the time.

• Esophageal cancer is 3-4 times more common in men than women.

• The incidence of esophageal cancer increases with age – about 8 of 10 people diagnosed are between ages 55 and 85.

• Esophageal cancer can be a silent killer with patients often unaware that the cough, hoarse voice, sore throat or chest pain they suffer can be signs of GERD and are reasons to discuss screening for esophageal cancer with their medical care professional.

• Esophageal cancer can develop from GERD when acid from the stomach creates cellular changes in the esophagus resulting in a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett’s Esophagus which can lead to a 125-fold increase in a patient’s risk of developing EC.

• Esophageal cancer has such a poor survival rate because it is usually discovered at late stages. New treatment techniques have produce cure rates of 98% with early detection.

Until four years ago, there was no national advocacy organization fighting esophageal cancer.

But the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN) led by top physicians, business

leaders and families the cancer has affected is tackling this devastating disease head

on. Working to support innovation in medical research, ECAN successfully advocated with the National Cancer Institute to have esophageal cancer included in the groundbreaking research conducted by The Cancer Genome Atlas project of NCI. Also, ECAN has formed a partnership with the estate of famed actor Humphrey Bogart who died of esophageal cancer in 1957. Stephen Bogart, son of Humphrey Bogart and actress Lauren Bacall, has taped awareness raising movie trailers and public service announcements which will be shown in theaters and on television.

As part of its Awareness Month campaign, ECAN is providing EC Awareness Month “Reach Out Kits” to health care providers, patients and advocates who want to increase understanding about the link between heartburn and cancer. To order kits and to find out more about esophageal cancer go to www.ecan.org or call them at 410-358-3226.

Contact: Philip McGranahan H: 207-439-4663

9 Woodlawn Ave. C: 781-367-2614

Kittery, ME 03904 pmcgranahan@comcast.net

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