The Connection Between Acid Reflux and Cancer

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Acid reflux affects millions of people, but you may not know that acid reflux over time could turn to cancer. Hartford HealthCare gastroenterologist Dr. David Chaletsky explains. 

Q: What is acid reflux? 

A: Acid reflux – commonly known as heartburn – occurs when acid from the stomach moves up into the esophagus. Over many years, that acid changes the lining of the esophagus, and turns it potentially into cancer.

Q: How do you treat something like that? How do you even know this is happening?

A: Someone would come in for a test called an upper endoscopy. Quite simply, you’re sedated, and we put a small camera down into the esophagus to look for abnormal cells. If we find those cells, we can treat the issue with a procedure called endoscopic eradication therapy, which we perform here at Hartford Hospital. It’s a series of different procedures where the goal is to completely remove and eradicate the abnormal cells, thus eradicating the chance for cancer.

Q: How do you know if you are at risk or this might be happening to you?

A: The typical patient would be someone who has heartburn for a long time. However, one has to understand that there are other atypical symptoms that people could have. One would be chronic cough, voice changes, even chest pain, and also individuals who have trouble with swallowing occasionally.

Learn more about treatments for esophageal cancer here


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