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What is the rate of incidence for esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer is the most rapidly increasing cancer in the United States. It is up 600-750% since the 1970s. Almost 19,000 people lose their lives to this aggressive disease each year.

Barrett’s esophagus is the source of a large number of these cancers. Barrett’s occurs when the lining of the esophagus changes from it normal squamous to a columnar type which is similar to that in the stomach. However, these cells can be unstable and can assume a malignant disposition. This is caused by the presence of acid that refluxes into the esophagus secondary to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Most alarming is the fact this can happen in the face of no heartburn symptoms. The nature of this change can be insidious, and the key is early detection.

Esophageal cancer is not a common cancer in the United States, but it is more common on other continents such as Asia and Africa. In 2009, 16,470 new cases of esophageal cancer were diagnosed in the United States. About 14,000 people died from the same disease in the United States in the same year.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.