Heartburn Can Cause Esophageal Cancer

Bart Frazzitta on how heartburn can cause esophageal cancerMy family has a history of stomach problems.  My Dad had bleeding ulcers on several occasions so, when I started to have heartburn on a regular basis, I thought it was just part of my heritage. I didn’t know that heartburn can cause esophageal cancer but, in my case, that’s exactly what happened.

Heartburn for over 25 years

For years I had recurring bouts of heartburn.  I would take an over-the-counter antacid, and the problem would go away.  Since the heartburn didn’t immediately return, I thought the antacid had handled the problem.

When I started to have heartburn more frequently (2 or 3 times a week),  I attributed it to stress at work and eating late at night. I continued to take an over-the-counter remedy and, as before, the problem would go away.

This pattern continued for 25 years and never once during that time did I hear that heartburn can cause esophageal cancer. Even though I read the newspaper regularly and saw many advertisements on television, I never learned that heartburn can cause esophageal cancer.

Diagnosis of Esophageal Cancer

When I experienced food getting stuck in my esophagus, I knew something was wrong. I went to my doctor who immediately sent me for an endoscopic exam. The results were devastating — I had stage III esophageal cancer. The tumor was at the base of my esophagus where my stomach and esophagus meet.

My odds of surviving esophageal cancer where truly frightening. When I was diagnosed in 1999, the odds were between 5 – 10% for a stage III patient. Today, even after a prescribed course of  chemotherapy, radiation therapy and major surgery, the average 5-year survival rate  for all patients regardless of their course of treatment  is only 17.5%

Heartburn can cause esophageal cancer

When I told the doctors about my long history of heartburn,  they all agreed it was the cause of my esophageal cancer. Why had I never heard that before? It is frustrating that such a deadly disease goes unmentioned.

Esophageal cancer is truly a stealthy killer. It can progress from heartburn, to Acid Reflux, to Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), to Barrett’s Esophagus, to Esophageal Cancer. There were 17,000 new cases of esophageal cancer in the United States last year and about 15,000 deaths due to the disease in the same period.

ECEF was founded to fight this disease

My wife, Ginny, and I, decided to fight this disease by helping to make people more aware of it. We created the Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation (ECEF) with the first goal to bring awareness and educate the public about esophageal cancer.

The video below is an important part of our efforts to education the public about this insidious disease. Please take a moment to learn more about esophageal cancer and  be sure to share this video with everyone you know.

Video not working? View it here on YouTube. 

If you only take away one thing from this video, please remember: heartburn can cause esophageal cancer.

Thank you,

Bart Frazzitta

Patient, Survivor and Co-Founder
Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation

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