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Endoscopy
April 14th, 2015

Guest blog: Dr. Shaheen weighs in on esophageal cancer awareness and prevention


Nicholas J. Shaheen, MD, MPH Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology Chief, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Nicholas J. Shaheen, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Chief, Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology
University of North Carolina School of Medicine

Esophageal cancer is a devastating, but potentially preventable, disease.  The catch is that by the time that symptoms occur, the cancer has often progressed too far to allow cure.

So what is a person to do who would like to avoid this cancer?  The best thing is to know the risk factors.  Longterm heartburn is a strong risk factor.  Smoking, male gender, and obesity also figure into your risk for this disease.  If you have two or more of these risk factors, have a conversation with your primary care doctor.  You may need a screening upper endoscopy – a simple test where we put a light tube with a camera down your esophagus (or “food tube”) to make sure that you don’t have a precancerous or cancerous changes in your esophagus.

So ask your doctor.  A few minutes could literally save a life.

Dr. Shaheen is a paid consultant to Cook Medical regarding the research and development of medical devices.