This week, May 10–16, 2009, marks Esophageal Cancer Awareness Week in Toronto. This is a cause close to my heart and I think it is very important to spread awareness of this rare and aggressive form of cancer. My father was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer in October 2006 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Unfortunately, the treatments did not work and the cancer spread to his liver. He fought hard, but in the end, he lost his battle with cancer in November 2007.
Esophageal Cancer is a very aggressive cancer and is often detected too late. There is also not a lot of research being done so awareness of signs and symptoms is crucial. I personally had never heard of Esophageal Cancer until my father was diagnosed. This disease is quickly becoming one of the deadliest forms of cancer out there with a survival rate of less than 25%. More and more I am hearing from others who are affected or have been affected by this disease and sadly most stories do not have a happy ending.
Causes of Esophageal Cancer (taken from the Canadian Cancer Society website)
Most people diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus are over the age of 60. Men are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus than women.
There is no single cause of esophageal cancer, but some factors increase the risk of developing it:
• Barrett’s esophagus
• smoking or chewing tobacco
• drinking a lot of alcohol, especially if you also use tobacco
• irritation or damage caused by exposure to chemicals or drinking very hot liquids often
• having had other cancers in the head, neck or digestive system
Some people develop esophageal cancer without any of these risk factors.
For more information on Esophageal Cancer contact your doctor, or visit the Canadian Cancer Society.