GERD Awareness Week: November 24-30, 2019

What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Mashed or sweet potatoes, stuffing, the turkey, or vegetables?  Did you know that the week of Thanksgiving is also dedicated to bringing awareness to a growing disease which affects roughly 20% of Americans?

That disease is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Also known as acid reflux disease, GERD is a condition of the digestive system, which has increased significantly in recent decades.  GERD is also a primary risk factor for esophageal cancer, one of the fastest growing and deadliest cancers in the United States. Esophageal cancer, like GERD, has also increased significantly in past decades. In fact, incidence of esophageal cancer has risen over 733% in the past four decades and only an overall five-year survival rate of less than 19.2%.

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation, a nonprofit which has funded two grants for esophageal cancer research, one in July, 2015 and another in November, 2018, is working once again to bring awareness of the dangerous link between GERD and esophageal cancer.  The Salgi Foundation, a Rhode Island based nonprofit with chapters in St. Louis, Missouri, Colorado and Brooklyn, New York has recently been named a “2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit” by GreatNonprofits.  This award was based from online reviews of supporters who, for some, have first-hand experience of the dangers of acid reflux disease and its most common symptom: chronic heartburn.

Heartburn does not typically cause major concern, as billions of Americans experience it at some point in their lives. However, persistent heartburn, which occurs two or more times a week, should not be taken lightly, as it could be a symptom of the disease.

President of The Salgi Foundation, Linda Molfesi, said, “my father suffered from chronic heartburn for years and was never warned by doctors of the possible risks. We found out too late, once he started having difficulty swallowing, that his chronic reflux had led to esophageal cancer.” Molfesi continued, “My father passed away a little over a year after he was diagnosed and it was, and still is, devastating.”

Unfortunately, esophageal cancer has few, if any, early symptoms. Symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, chronic cough or hoarseness, food getting stuck or choking while eating often occur once the cancer has spread and reaches an advanced stage. To make matters even worse, there are currently no routine or standard screenings to detect esophageal cancer in earlier stages.   The foundation is hoping to help change that, awarding $62,597 to researchers at Virginia Mason Medical Center who are currently developing a breath test for detecting esophageal cancer earlier.

Molfesi encourages those who suffer from reflux to be proactive about their health, stating “never ignore frequent heartburn and never rely on medications alone. Talk to your doctor about all of your options, especially how you can get screened for any possible damage.”

 

 

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation: A 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to raise awareness, encourage early detection and to fund research of esophageal cancer in hopes of a cure.™  The charity has hosted events in Rhode Island, Missouri, Colorado, Ohio, Kentucky, New York City, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maine, New Jersey and Illinois, with additional locations currently in the planning stages. These events gave rise to chapters in St. Louis, Missouri; Arvada, Colorado and Brooklyn, New York.  For more information, please visit: www.salgi.org

 

 

Learn the Facts About Esophageal Cancer:

 

  • No standard or routine screening to detect cancer in earlier stages
  • One of the fastest growing and deadliest cancers in the US and western world
  • Symptoms often arise once the cancer has spread
  • Research receives low government and/or private funding
  • In 2019, estimated 17,650 diagnoses and 16,080 deaths from the cancer.
  • Overall five-year survival rate of less than 19.2%.
  • Stage IV has a survival rate of only 4.8%.

 

 

 

Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors:

 

  • Acid reflux disease-GERD (chronic heartburn)
  • Obesity/overweight
  • Poor nutrition
  • Heavy drinking
  • Tobacco use
  • Barrett’s esophagus

 

 

Common Symptoms of Esophageal Cancer:

 

  • Painful/difficulty swallowing
  • Food getting stuck
  • Weight loss
  • Hoarseness or cough
  • Indigestion/heartburn
  • Pain behind breastbone or pain in back

 

 

For more information, please visit: SALGI.org/gerd

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