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Survivor Story: Borden “Yes, you can beat this!”

March 8, 2019

Below is a story from a wife of a man who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.  We are very thankful to this couple for sharing their personal experiences with us in order to bring awareness to this devastating cancer.  As his wife said, “I want to bring hope to people facing this horrible disease. [My husband} is a testament to fighting and winning!”

Survivor Story: Borden. Story by wife, Mary A.

My husband was diagnosed on March 3, 2009 with stage 3 Esophageal cancer. He fought it with chemo and radiation first then after 2 months if intensive treatments had the 9.5 hr surgery to remove the cancer. He had to learn how to swallow again and ate through a feeding tube for 7 months. It was such a scary time for us.

Jump ahead to ten years later, he’s doing great!!! He survived with lots of care and prayer. My prayers were answered and I hope his story will help others know, yes you can beat this awful disease!

 

Awareness, Early Detection and Research

Too often, esophageal cancer is ignored and disregarded. There is a tremendous need to bring not only awareness but tools and resources to encourage early detection and advocacy and actual funding for esophageal cancer research.

The personal stories we share on our website do just that.  They are each equally important and deserve to be published.  Please do not reproduce any of these stories without our permission.  You may contact us with any questions or comments.

Do you have an experience with esophageal cancer that you would like to share either publicly or privately?  To learn more, please visit: Share Your Story.

 

For more ways to help, please visit:  SALGI.org/ways-to-give 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation Issues Esophageal Cancer Research Funding For the Second Time

December 14, 2018

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation has issued funding for esophageal cancer research in November, 2018; the second time in just seven years since the charity was founded.

The Foundation awarded principal investigator, Dr. Donald Low and Virginia Mason Medical Center, grant funding.  Dr. George Hanna of St Mary’s Hospital (Imperial College London) is co-investigator.

In 2011, The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation was established to raise awareness, encourage early detection and to fund research of esophageal cancer.  Since 2011, the foundation has both raised awareness and encouraged the importance of earliest possible detection throughout New England, across the United States and internationally.  The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation first funded esophageal cancer research in July, 2015.

“The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation is excited to be a part of Dr. Low’s, Professor Hanna’s and Virginia Mason’s research efforts in honor of all the brave men and women who have been affected by esophageal cancer and to hopefully reduce incidence and improve outcomes for individuals in the future,” President of the foundation, stated.

The research intends to establish a non-invasive test for the detection of esophageal cancer that is based upon the unique signature of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within exhaled breath and to analyze exhaled VOCs in response to therapeutic intervention in patients.

Learn the Facts About Esophageal Cancer

One of the primary risk factors associated with esophageal cancer is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, also known as GERD or acid reflux disease, of which the most common symptom is chronic heartburn.  Other risk factors include obesity, heavy drinking, poor nutrition and smoking and/or use of tobacco products.

With over a 733% increase in the past four decades, esophageal cancer is among the fastest growing and deadliest cancers in the United States and the western world.1

There are no current standard or routine screenings to detect esophageal cancer in its earlier stages. Current guidelines recommend referral for endoscopy “only in the setting of ‘red flag’ symptoms that are frequently associated with inoperable disease,” Dr. Low stated.

These ‘red flag’ symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, typically appear once the cancer has become advanced.  This, in addition with other factors mentioned, leads to the current overall five-year survival rate of only 19.2%.2  Despite its rapid increase and poor prognosis, esophageal cancer receives very little awareness and research funding.

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation

The Salgi Foundation: Past Esophageal Cancer Research Funding

In July, 2015, the Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation issued esophageal cancer research funding to Program Director Dr. Carlos Minacapelli and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnston Medical School.  That research was presented as a poster presentation during Digestive Disease Week in May, 2017.

Thank you!

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation would like to thank all our supporters and donors who believe in this mission and who make these accomplishments possible.  However, this is just the beginning.  The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation continuously receives many requests for esophageal cancer research.  We need to continue our efforts to fundraise so that we may continue to fulfill this mission to raise awareness, encourage early detection and fund research.

To make a tax-deductible donation to The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation, please visit: SALGI.org/donate.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

1 “Esophageal Cancer Sees Dramatic Spike.” Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News. 18 October 2018. https://www.gastroendonews.com/In-the-News/Article/10-18/Esophageal-Cancer-Sees-Dramatic-Spike-/53083

2 “Cancer Stat Facts: Esophageal Cancer.” National Cancer Institute, Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program.  11 December 2018. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/esoph.html


Foundation Reaches Milestone: Issues Esophageal Cancer Research Funding For the First Time.

July 28, 2015

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation has issued its first round of funding for esophageal cancer research earlier this month.

The foundation awarded program director, Dr. Carlos Minacapelli and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnston Medical School grant funding.

In 2011, The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation was established to raise awareness, encourage early detection and to fund research of esophageal cancer.  Since 2011, the foundation has both raised awareness and encouraged the importance of earliest possible detection throughout New England, across the United States and internationally.

“The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation is excited to be a part of Dr. Minacapelli’s and Rutger’s research efforts in honor of all the brave men and women who were affected by esophageal cancer and to hopefully reduce incidence and improve outcomes for individuals in the future” President of the foundation stated.

The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation would like to thank all of our supporters and donors who believe in this mission and who make these accomplishments possible.  However, this is just the beginning.  We received many other research requests that we were unable to fund at this time.  We need to continue our efforts to fundraise so that we may continue to fund research.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, also known as GERD or acid reflux disease, of which the most common symptom is chronic heartburn, is one of the primary risk factors associated with esophageal cancer.  Other risk factors include obesity, poor nutrition and smoking.  With over a 600% increase in the past decades, esophageal cancer is among the fastest growing and deadliest cancers in the United States and western world.

Currently, there are no standard or routine screenings to detect esophageal cancer in earlier stages. Symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, typically appear once the cancer has become advanced and the overall five-year survival rate is only 17.5%.  Despite its rapid increase and poor prognosis, esophageal cancer receives very little awareness and research funding.

To make a tax-deductible donation to The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation, please visit: SALGI.org/donate.

 


‘Jumping genes’ may drive esophageal cancer, Cancer Research UK

July 10, 2015

Cancer Research UK scientists have found that ‘jumping genes’ may add to the genetic chaos behind more than three-quarters of esophageal cancer cases, according to research published in BMC Genomics.

The scientists, from the University of Cambridge, used cutting-edge technology that can read DNA to study the genes of 43 esophageal tumour and blood samples to discover how much these mobile genetic sequences travel.

‘Jumping genes’, called L1 elements, can uproot themselves and move to new areas in the DNA, sometimes accidentally moving into genes that control the cell’s growth.

They found evidence that this happened around 100 times in each tumour sample, and in some tumours it happened 700 times.

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Image: Cancer Research UK

If a jumping gene lands in or near an important gene that controls cell growth, it can wreak havoc, changing how the gene works so that it inadvertently tells the cell to grow and divide out of control – which could lead to cancer.

Study author Dr Paul Edwards, at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: “These jumping genes play hopscotch across our genetic code in cancer cells more than in normal cells. When one of these mobile genetic sequences plants itself in the middle of a gene that controls the cell’s growth it radically alters how the cell behaves, which can sometimes cause cancer.

“Research has shown that this might also happen in lung and bowel cancers. So it’s vital we find out more about how the cells do this in a bid to find ways to treat these cancers.”

The research is part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) – a global project using the latest gene sequencing technology to reveal the genetic changes behind cancer.  The esophageal cancer project is funded by Cancer Research UK.

Dr Kat Arney, Cancer Research UK’s science information manager, said: “Esophageal cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat, and we are committed to funding more research to find out its underlying causes. These new findings reveal more about the genetic chaos that underpins esophageal tumours, and could one day help us develop better ways to diagnose, treat and monitor the disease.”

References: Paterson et al. Mobile element insertions are frequent in oesophageal adenocarcinomas and can mislead paired end sequencing analysis. BMC Genomics. DOI: 10.1186/s12864-015-1685-z.

This post is based on materials provided by Cancer Research UK.


Proton therapy has fewer side effects in esophageal cancer patients, study finds.

May 26, 2015

New research by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine has found that esophageal cancer patients treated with proton therapy experienced significantly less toxic side effects than patients treated with older radiation therapies.

Working with colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Dallas, Texas, Michael Chuong, MD, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the school, compared two kinds of X-ray radiation with proton therapy, an innovative, precise approach that targets tumors while minimizing harm to surrounding tissues.

The researchers looked at nearly 600 patients and found that proton therapy resulted in a significantly lower number of side effects, including nausea, blood abnormalities and loss of appetite. The results were presented on May 22 at the annual conference of the Particle Therapy Cooperative Group, held in San Diego.

“This evidence underscores the precision of proton therapy, and how it can really make a difference in cancer patients’ lives,” said Dr. Chuong.

Patients with esophageal cancer can suffer a range of side effects, including nausea, fatigue, lack of appetite, blood abnormalities and lung and heart problems. Proton therapy did not make a difference in all of these side effects, but had significant effects on several.

The results have particular relevance for the University of Maryland School of Medicine; this fall the school will open the Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC). The center will provide one of the newest and highly precise forms of radiation therapy available, pencil beam scanning (PBS), which targets tumors while significantly decreasing radiation doses to healthy tissue. This technique can precisely direct radiation to the most difficult-to-reach tumors.

esophageal cancer patients proton therapy new research study findings esophagus cancer patients

The National Association for Proton Therapy proton-therapy.org

 

Proton therapy is just one of several new methods for treating cancer. Others include:

  • Selective Internal Radiation Therapy, a precision modality for treating patients with particularly difficult-to-remove tumors involving the liver such as those from colorectal cancers;
  • Gammapod, a new, high-precision, noninvasive method of treating early-stage breast cancer;
  • Thermal Therapies, the use of “heat” in treating a broad spectrum of malignancies.

The treatment works well for many kinds of tumors, including those found in the brain, esophagus, lung, head and neck, prostate, liver, spinal cord and gastrointestinal system. It is also an important option for children with cancer and is expected to become an important option for some types of breast cancer. While most cancer patients are well served with today’s state-of-the-art radiation therapy technology, up to 30 percent are expected to have a greater benefit from the new form of targeted proton beam therapy.

This post is based on information provided by University of Maryland.

 


Research findings could provide new insights into esophageal cancer, Barrett’s esophagus

October 20, 2014

Despite previous indications to the contrary, the esophagus does have its own pool of stem cells, said researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in an animal study published online today in Cell Reports.

The findings could lead to new insights into the development and treatment of esophageal cancer and the precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus.

According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 18,170 people will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the U.S. in 2014 and an estimated 15,450  people will die from it. In Barrett’s esophagus, the lining of the esophagus changes for unknown reasons to resemble that of the intestine, though gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD is a risk factor for its development.

“The esophageal lining must renew regularly as cells slough off into the gastrointestinal tract,” said senior investigator Eric Lagasse, Pharm.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology, Pitt School of Medicine, and director of the Cancer Stem Cell Center at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“To do that, cells in the deeper layers of the esophagus divide about twice a week to produce daughter cells that become the specialized cells of the lining. Until now, we haven’t been able to determine whether all the cells in the deeper layers are the same or if there is a subpopulation of stem cells there.”

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The research team grew pieces or “organoids” of esophageal tissue from mouse samples, and then conducted experiments to identify and track the different cells in the basal layer of the tissue. They found a small population of cells that divide more slowly, are more primitive, can generate specialized or differentiated cells, and have the ability to self-renew, which is a defining trait of stem cells.

“It was thought that there were no stem cells in the esophagus because all the cells were dividing rather than resting or quiescent, which is more typical of stem cells,” Dr. Lagasse noted. “Our findings reveal that there indeed are esophageal stem cells, and rather than being quiescent, they divide slowly compared to the rest of the deeper layer cells.”

In future work, the researchers will examine human esophageal tissues for evidence of stem cell dysfunction in Barrett’s esophagus disease.”Some scientists have speculated that abnormalities of esophageal stem cells could be the origin of the tissue changes that occur in Barrett’s disease,” Dr. Lagasse said. “Our current and future studies could make it possible to test this long-standing hypothesis.”

Source:
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. “Stem cells discovered in the esophagus.” ScienceDaily, 16 Oct. 2014

National Cancer Institute. “SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Esophageal Cancer.”


Don’t Ignore Frequent Heartburn!

July 29, 2014

Millions of Americans suffer from heartburn each year.  Unfortunately, many of those Americans are experiencing chronic heartburn, which occurs more than twice a week.   Heartburn is one of the most common symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.  This disease is known more commonly as GERD and is a major risk factor for esophageal cancer.

Heartburn is often ignored, disregarded and poorly managed.  Many heartburn suffers try to self-medicate through the use of antacids or acid reducing medications.  Typically, these medications do not work long-term for those whose heartburn symptoms caused by GERD.

GERD affects almost 1/3 of all Americans and is the most expensive gastrointestinal disorder in the United States, with direct and indirect costs totaling approximately $10 billion dollars each year.   

The National Cancer Institute defines GERD as the backward flow of stomach acid contents into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach).   It is also known as esophageal reflux and gastric reflux.

This back flow is caused by a weakened lower esophageal sphincter, which is a ring of muscle that opens and closes the opening between the esophagus and the stomach.  The LES can’t contain the stomach contents from entering back up into the esophagus.

Overtime, this reflux of stomach acids damages the lining of the esophageal wall and can cause the cells to become abnormal and potentially lead to esophageal cancer.   This change in the cells, which line the lower part of the esophageal wall, is known as Barrett’s esophagus, a sometimes precancerous condition.

Taking medications, whether they are over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor, does not repair the LES.   These medications only treat the symptoms of the disease while the damage can continue to occur.  Also, these medications are intended for temporary relief and are not to be taken for an extended period of time.

As we mentioned, GERD is one of the risks associated with esophageal cancer, along with other factors, such as being overweight or Barrett’s esophagus.   Having one of these risk factors does not mean that cancer will result.  However, having one of these risk factors and not being proactive can significantly further the risk of esophageal cancer.

The earlier esophageal cancer is detected, the better.  Unfortunately, there are currently no standard or routine screenings to detect esophageal cancer in its earliest stages.

It is imperative that patients suffering from chronic and frequent heartburn to be proactive.   Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes to help reduce GERD symptoms.  Also, discuss the various tests used to detect esophageal cancer.  Click here for more information regarding methods used to detect esophageal cancer.

Visit us on Facebook and tell us if you or someone you know suffers from chronic heartburn. We’re here to help! Facebook.com/SalgiFoundation 

Almost one-third of Americans have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease GERD heartburn chronic acid reflux.  which is the most expensive gastrointestinal disorder in the United States US USA U.S. with direct and indirect costs totaling, $10 billion per year.

Sources:
refluxmd.com 
cancer.gov
iffgd.org