Scientists Discover an Alarming Rise in a Certain Cancer Variant

New research has discovered that the occurrence of esophageal cancer in adults between the ages of 45 and 64 has nearly doubled.

According to the researchers, the data indicate an urgent need for earlier endoscopic screening.

Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the esophagus, which is a long, hollow tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Your esophagus helps transport food you eat to your stomach where it will be digested. Esophageal cancer typically starts in the cells that line the esophagus’s interior. However, it may occur at any point in the esophagus.

Esophageal cancer is the sixth leading cause of mortality from cancer globally. The rates of the disease vary depending on where you live. Tobacco and alcohol use, as well as certain dietary practices and obesity, may be linked to greater risks of esophageal cancer.

According to a database study of around five million patients to be presented at Digestive Disease Week 2022, adults aged 45 to 64 had a nearly doubled prevalence of esophageal cancer and a 50% rise in the precancerous disease Barrett’s esophagus between 2012 and 2019.

“This strong growth in prevalence should be of concern to physicians, and we should consider screening more middle-aged patients for esophageal cancer if they are at higher risk,” said Bashar J. Qumseya, MD, MPH, FASGE, lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine and chief of endoscopy at the University of Florida, Gainesville. “Whenever we see increasing prevalence of any type of cancer, we should ask whether this is merely due to better screening or it is a true increase in the disease prevalence. In our study, it was due to the latter.”

The researchers examined the rate of esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) throughout this time period and found no evidence of an increase that may explain the prevalence data. An EGD is a diagnostic procedure that examines the esophagus, stomach, and first section of the small intestine (duodenum).

Esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus are most common in older white men, according to the research, with those over 65 having the greatest prevalence. However, researchers discovered that the cancer incidence in the 45-to-64 age bracket about doubled, from 49 to 94 per 100,000, while the frequency of Barrett’s esophagus increased by roughly 50%, from 304 to 466 per 100,000 individuals.

Esophageal cancer, which is usually detected by endoscopy, is often a silent killer with minimal symptoms until it becomes advanced. Barrett’s esophagus – the primary precursor lesion for esophageal adenocarcinoma, which begins in the glandular cells in the lining of the esophagus – is caused mainly by chronic acid reflux. Other risk factors include advanced age, male sex, obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

Dr. Qumseya said that middle-aged patients with multiple risk factors would benefit from earlier and/or more frequent screening, comparing it to the benefit of earlier colorectal cancer screening. “Many patients in the U.S. now have colonoscopies starting at age 45, so conducting an endoscopy at the same time, among those with multiple risk factors, could help capture more patients with Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer,” he said.

“From other analyses we have conducted with this dataset, we know that even patients with four or more risk factors for esophageal cancer are not having endoscopies,” he added. “So, from both the patient and provider perspective, we can do better.”

The study was a cross-sectional analysis of electronic health record (EHR) data from the OneFlorida Clinical Data Research Network, which covers more than 40 percent of Florida residents.

Researchers analyzed records by three age categories, 18 to 44, 45 to 64, and over 65. Further analysis of the database is ongoing, and the final results should be ready in the next six months.

Dr. Qumseya noted several limitations of the study: it covered only adults living in Florida, so is not necessarily representative of the U.S. population. It was not a randomized controlled trial that followed one group of patients over time. In addition, as with any database, there could be problems with the data itself. The EHRs analyzed were of patients who visited hospitals or doctors’ offices, so the database does not indicate whether they already had a disease at the time of that visit or whether the condition had resolved.

In the final analyses, the research team plans to revisit the database to try to differentiate between the two types of esophageal cancer – esophageal adenocarcinoma, which usually affects the lower esophagus, and squamous cell carcinoma, which affects the upper esophagus.

Reference: “Alarming increase in prevalence of esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus in middle-aged patients: findings from a statewide database of over five million patients” by Bashar J. Qumseya et al., 23 May 2022. 

CancerGastroenterologyPopularUniversity of Florida
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  • rassalas

    Alarming rise in Medical scare stories!

  • Jane

    I’m willing to bet the extreme rise in Cancers has something to do with the mRNA inoculations (still in trial phase). Pfizer having 9½ pages, single spaced, of listed Adverse events & the spike protein likely playing a role in the p53 gene (which controls tumor growth) not working properly, would be my #1 suspicion.

  • Michael Gallagher

    I’m willing to bet Jane is insane

  • MOOPIUSVUL

    So let me just say I was recently diagnosed with this at 51 years old and it was pretty shocking. My symptoms were slight difficulty swallowing. My doctor was also surprised. This is an extremely aggressive cancer. Be very aware and get checked if you feel that problem. Also I was not vaccinated at the time. There is no link. Question is, why is cancer on the rise in general? Much love to you all!

  • Alfredo

    I believe that the increase in esophageal cancer may be due to an increase in the advertising and resulting consumption of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). The effect of PPIs is to reduce acid production but I don’t think that these medications do anything to reduce actual reflux since the upper esophageal sphincter is still not in good working order. When reflux occurs there is an increase in bile (which is produced in the stomach) concentration in the esophageal area. Excess bile in the esophageal tissue is known to cause irritation and other effects which can potentially result in cancer. I’m not a doctor but my comments are based on a conversation I had with my gastroenterologist a few years ago and she predicted that this was going to be happening soon.

  • Richelle K

    How many people are buying and using coffee POD machines like Keurig etc, that use cheap plastic (that almost all/most coffee pods are made of; barring minimal expensive non plastic pods/hard to find). The machines push boiling hot hit water thru these cheap Plastic pods fulled with codfee groundss…people drink sometimes many a day..even using them for tea. It seems suspect and worrysome to me..to be using these cheap plastic pods? Feel better soon those with C diagnosis..new cures every day seems like..never give up; (great cancer cure news out of India trial i see too). xxoo much love ♡

  • Janice Greenfield

    My brother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Unfortunately, he passed away on 10/25/2021 at the age of 61. Still hard to believe he left us so suddenly. I had never heard much about it, prior to his diagnosis. It’s definitely on the rise.

  • James Kilrain

    Yes,it is scary.However,if caught early enough ,it can be treated.

  • Kerry Shaw

    Due to oesphageal acid and pepsin reflux caused by diet. Tinned food containing acetic acid, caffeine, soda drinks, alcohol, vinegars, citrus fruits and drinks. Acidic foods.

  • Malky

    To avoid acid reflux dont eat late and take sugarfree tums before bed if you eat anything acidic near bedtime.
    Leave some near the bedside to quench acid when you feel it in the night…

  • Beth

    Would love to know what percentage of the people who got esophageal cancer in the time period mentioned (2013-2019) were vapers. The timeline tracks perfectly with the rise of vaping.

  • Benjamin S Henderson

    @Jane, yeah, I think you’re friggin nuts