Esophageal cancer does not discriminate against anyone. Men and women of all ages and ethnicities can be affected.
Known risk factors of esophageal cancer include:
Chronic heartburn (acid reflux disease, Gastroesophagael Reflux Disease, GERD)
Age, gender and ethnicity are also considered risk factors. The American Cancer Society states om their website that “men are more than 3 times as likely as women to get esophageal cancer” and that “the chance of getting esophageal cancer is low at younger ages and increases with age. Less than 15% of cases are found in people younger than age 55.”
While it is true that older men have a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer, esophageal cancer is increasing rapidly and has increased over 600% in the past decades. Therefore, esophageal cancer diagnoses are increasingly affecting all ages, genders and races.
Esophageal cancer diagnoses are increasing at such a rate that Gastroenterologists have projected that “within 10 years, esophageal cancer is going to exceed colon cancer as the second most common cancer in this country,” Dr. Jonathan Aviv noted in his video presentation “The Changing Face of Esophageal Cancer.”
Take for instance Yosra El-Essawy, International photographer and documenter who in more recent years worked with Beyoncé. Yosra El-Essawy —passed away earlier this week at age 33 after her battle with esophageal cancer.
“In June 2013 whilst on Beyoncé’s ‘The Mrs Carter Show World Tour’ just shy of my 32nd birthday, I was diagnosed with stage 4, inoperable oeseophageal cancer,” Yosra wrote on her website. This devastating diagnosis came only 8 weeks after she “landed the job of a lifetime” working with Beyoncé.
Yosra El-Essawy was female, 32 years old and of Egyptian decent and fits none of the risk factors which we quoted from ACR’s website. Risk factors associated with esophageal cancer also usually include drinking, obesity and chronic acid reflux – things also not associated with Yosra.
On Yosra’s website, teamslugslayer.com, a section of the website is dedicated to “Oesophageal Cancer Survival Stories.” There we found stories of survivors who were 27, 36, and 47 years old.
So, what can be done to prevent cases such as Yosra’s and many others who are diagnosed with esophageal cancer yet are not considered “at risk.”?
Unfortunately, despite the fact that esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer and one of the deadliest cancers, it is extremely underfunded.
In fact, the National Cancer Institute decreased funding for research of esophageal cancer by 15% in 2012. NCI invests a mere $28.0 million out of their total $5.07 billion budget for esophageal cancer. That is approximately half of one percent.
In 2014, The American Cancer Society reports on their website that they currently fund 1,165 cancer research projects. Only 8 of these projects are for esophageal cancer research.
When it comes to esophageal cancer incidences such as Yosra’s, awareness and early detection would not have been enough to save her life. There were no indicators that she may be at risk for deadly esophageal cancer and when she did experience symptoms, it was too late.
Many who are diagnosed with esophageal cancer, even those considered at risk, rarely experience any symptoms in the cancers early stages. Symptoms such as difficulty swallowing tend to appear once the cancer has spread and reached an advanced stage.
There is also no standard or routine screening to detect esophageal cancer in its earliest stages when the cancer is more treatable.
Research is needed to discover exactly what causes esophageal cancer and what can be done to prevent it; especially in those who are not seen as “at risk.”
In order to find the root of the problem which is esophageal cancer, researchers need to be equipped with adequate resources and funding.
Esophageal cancer research does not receive enough funding; both from the government organizations and other nonprofit charities. You can make a difference by donating today to support this life-saving research. All donations are 100% tax deductible and go directly towards this mission.
Sources:cancer.net cancer.gov cancer.org teamslugslayer.com