If you’re like a lot of people, you may not have a thorough understanding of esophageal cancer and how the condition is treated, and that’s fine! However, during Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, our goal is to help inform and enlighten people about esophageal cancer and how we can help you treat the condition. In today’s blog, we’re hoping to increase knowledge about esophageal cancer by dispelling some of the most common myths about the condition.
“Esophageal cancer is rare.”
While esophageal cancer is rare compared to some more common cancers like skin or breast cancer, it’s certainly not rare in and of itself. Rates of esophageal cancer have climbed more than 600 percent in the past few decades, and for men, the lifetime risk of developing the condition is about 1 in 125.
“Esophageal cancer is untreatable.”
Esophageal cancer does not have the highest five-year mortality rates compared to other types of cancers, but these rates have skyrocketed in recent years. The five-year survival rate used to be about five percent, but now that’s up to around 20 percent, and that only increases if the condition is caught at an earlier stage. This speaks to the importance of heading to a doctor at the first sign of a problem.
“Hot drinks increase your esophageal cancer risk.”
A few years ago a study made waves by claiming that people who regularly consumed “very hot” tea had higher rates of esophageal cancer, but when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the study was conducted in Iran and did not control for other factors all that well. To date, there has been no conclusive study that has found that hot beverage consumption has been linked to cancer formation. Regular hot drink consumption may increase your esophageal cancer risk if you regularly smoke or consume alcohol, but it’s not seen as a danger as a stand-alone option.
“There’s nothing you can do to avoid esophageal cancer.”
While there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll never develop esophageal cancer, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your esophageal cancer risk. If you avoid smoking, limit your alcohol consumption, eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables and strive to maintain a healthy weight, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to esophageal cancer risk. You should also talk to your doctor if you have a family history of the condition so they can keep an eye on your throat.
“Esophageal cancer is easy to spot.”
Unfortunately, esophageal cancer is not easy to recognize in the early stages, so it’s important to keep an eye out for some of the subtle symptoms. Oft-overlooked symptoms like hoarseness, a chronic cough or difficulty swallowing can all suggest that there’s an issue with your esophagus. Know the early warning signs and speak to a specialist at the first sign of trouble.
If you are dealing with an esophageal cancer diagnosis, or you’re noticing some changes in your throat and want a specialist to take a look, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today for assistance.