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Prevention and Risk Factors for Esophageal Cancer

While there is not a standard screening test for esophageal cancer and the exact cause may not be fully understood, there are certain modifiable and non-modifiable risks factors and esophageal conditions that are associated with a higher incidence of diagnosis of esophageal cancer.

The most common risks factors include:

Age: Esophageal cancer is most often diagnosed in people over age 50.

Gender: Esophageal cancer is more common in men than women.

Tobacco and alcohol use: Use of tobacco in any form can increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer, particularly squamous cell carcinoma. The same is true of heavy use of alcohol over a long period of time.

Barrett’s esophagus: This condition happens when long-term reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus causes precancerous changes in the cells of the esophagus. A diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus increases the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Race: Adenocarcinoma is more common in white men than men of other races, while squamous cell cancer of the esophagus is more common among black or African Americans than whites.

Obesity: Being overweight is a risk factor for esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): If you experience persistent heartburn see your physician. GERD can lead to cancer of the esophagus. Patients that have Barrett’s esophagus and GERD are at higher risk of developing esophageal cancer, than people with only GERD.

Lifestyle changes that may reduce your risk of developing esophageal cancer:

  • Quit smoking. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your overall health and overall cancer prevention.
  • Alcohol consumption – quit drinking or cut back.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.

Our experienced specialists are able to identify those patients whose lifestyle risks warrant closer surveillance and treat esophageal conditions to help lower their risk of developing esophageal cancer.