April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month.
According to a report from the American Cancer Society, an estimated 20,640 new esophageal cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2022, 16,510 in men and 4,130 in women.
Barasch & McGarry represents nearly 250 9/11 first responders and survivors with esophageal cancer.
Barrett’s esophagus, which often precedes esophageal cancer, occurs when the esophagus becomes damaged by acid reflux, causing the lining to thicken and become red.
The condition results from stomach acid leaking into the esophagus, as happens with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), another condition that appears frequently in the 9/11 community.
For those with Barrett’s esophagus or GERD, regular checkups with careful imaging and extensive biopsies of the esophagus could find precancerous cells (known as dysplasia), allowing for treatment to prevent esophageal cancer from developing. Early detection is critical.
Symptoms of both esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus can include difficulty swallowing, unintended weight loss, pain, pressure, or burning in the chest, worsening indigestion or heartburn, and coughing or hoarseness.
The risk factors for esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, acid reflux disease, GERD, and exposure to Ground Zero toxins after 9/11.
If you have any of these symptoms or risk factors, we highly recommend you discuss with your primary health care provider screenings for esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus.
If you are diagnosed with esophageal cancer, Barrett’s esophagus, GERD, or any of the other cancers or respiratory diseases impacting the 9/11 community, please contact us for information on accessing the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.