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‘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.

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Study links abdominal fat (visceral) to increased risk of Barrett’s esophagus

February 14, 2014

A recent study shows that carrying more weight in the midsection may increase one’s risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, a precursor to esophageal cancer.

Health.Harvard.edu

Barrett’s esophagus is “a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) is damaged by stomach acid and changed to a lining similar to that of the stomach.”*  Barrett’s esophagus has been shown to be a precursor to esophageal cancer.  

This study linked a higher amount of visceral fat to a greater risk of Barrett’s esophagus.

The fat located in the abdominal region is either defined as visceral or subcutaneous. Visceral fat surrounds the organs in the abdominal region, while subcutaneous fat is located between the skin and the abdominal wall. 

Researchers reported that the elevated risk of Barrett’s esophagus related to the increase of visceral abdominal fat was found in both those who have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms and also those who do not experience GERD symptoms.

For a more information on the study, please refer to the following two articles:

“Visceral abdominal obesity measured by CT scan is associated with an increased risk of Barrett’s oesophagus: a case-control study.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine

“Visceral adipose tissue increased risk for Barrett’s esophagus.” Healio Gastroenterology

*“Barrett’s esophagus.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine 


Is your heartburn affecting your sleep?

February 11, 2014

Suffering from heartburn, whether be it during the day or at night, is an annoyance that many Americans cope with, some on a daily basis. An alarming 60 million Americans experience it at least once a month and 25 million Americans suffer from heartburn every day. When heartburn is this frequent or severe, people may be diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, more commonly known as GERD.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines GERD as “a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach).” This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, becomes damaged or weakened.

If not properly treated, long-term sufferers of GERD can develop serious medical conditions, which include chronic cough or hoarseness, esophagitis, bleeding, scarring or ulcers of the esophagus and Barrett’s esophagus, an abnormal change in the lining of the esophagus that can potentially raise the risk of developing esophageal cancer.

It is important to note that many patients who are diagnosed with GERD do not experience heartburn at all. Below are the most frequently reported symptoms of GERD:

• Heartburn (a symptom of acid reflux)
• Bad breath
• Burning or pain in the chest or throat
• Chronic cough
• Hoarseness or chronic sore throat
• Bitter taste in mouth
• Inflammation in the mouth and erosion of teeth
• Problems swallowing
• Asthma-like symptoms
• Excessive belching

GERD is amongst the most prevalent upper gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and most likely one of the most common disease diagnosed by Gastroenterologists across our nation.

For many, GERD does not just disrupt their daily routine, but their sleep as well. GERD sufferers who have trouble sleeping at night could also go on to experience other health problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, sleepiness during the day and restless leg syndrome.

It is best to first speak to a gastroenterologist or a primary health care provider to see what options are available to treat GERD effectively. Below are some helpful tips in order to reduce GERD symptoms and enjoy a better night’s sleep.

• Eat smaller meals
• Chew food slowly and thoroughly
• Say upright after meals
• Avoid foods which trigger your GERD symptoms (fats, spicy foods, alcohol)
• Keep a food journal to track your “trigger foods”
• Try sleeping with your head elevated. Either with extra pillows or a wedge pillow
• Restrict your eating in the evening
• Do not eat or drink anything two hours before bedtime (with the exception of water for medications.)

Again, please consult your doctor if you are having problems sleeping at night or are experiencing frequent or severe heartburn.  These suggestions are intended for informational purposes only.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Sources:
National Sleep Foundation
WebMD
American College of Gastroenterology 
 
 
 

‘Missed Opportunities in GERD Complication Screenings’

January 30, 2014

High-risk patients don’t always get endoscopic examination for Barrett’s esophagus, cancer, say researchers.
Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Men aged 65 years and older are much more likely to suffer the complications of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), such as Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal, gastric or duodenal cancer, but they’re much less likely to undergo endoscopic screenings that can detect these complications, according to recent research.

Go to full story in Outpatient Surgery here.

 

 

 

 

 


How is esophageal cancer diagnosed?

January 28, 2014

 Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy

During this procedure, a doctor uses an endoscope to see the upper GI tract which consists of the esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small intestine.  An endoscope is a lightweight, flexible, hollow instrument equipped with a lens which allows the doctor to see these internal parts.  Examining the esophagus, the doctor is looking for any abnormalities; inflammation, areas which have been irritated, abnormal growths or cancer. The procedure is generally preformed while a patient is under sedation.  Sedation is not required for all patients as some receive minimal to no sedation.   Doctors utilize endoscopy procedures to also detect ulcers, abnormal growths in the stomach or first part of small intestines, bowel obstructions or hiatal hernias.  There are small risks associated with an endoscopy such as bleeding, tissue infection and tears in the gastrointestinal tract.  These are rare instances, the Mayo Clinic reports that the latter occurs in about three to five out of every 10,000 upper endoscopies.

X-Ray

Also, known as a barium swallow or esophagram, is an upper gastroentestional series of X-rays used to examine the esophagus for any abnormal conditions.  This test requires patient to drink a thick liquid that temporarily coats the lining of the esophagus.  This will highlight the lining of the esophagus clearly on the X-rays to help better detect any abnormality.

Biopsy

If during an endoscopy, doctors finds any suspicious tissue, they will use an endoscope (defined above) passed down the throat into the esophagus to collect a sample of the tissue.  This tissue sample is then sent to a laboratory which will look for cancer cells.

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cancer research foundation, salgi, salgi foundation, salgi esophageal, salgi esophageal cancer, salgi esophageal cancer research, salgi esophageal cancer research foundation, salgi esophageal foundation, foundation salgi, esophageal cancer awareness salgi, esophageal cancer awareness salgi ri, ri esophageal cancer awareness salgi, ri salgi esophageal cancer, salgi esophageal cancer awareness ri salgi, salgi treatment esophageal cancer, salgi treatment esophageal cancer awareness, salgi treatment esophageal cancer awareness ri, Esophageal Cancer Walk/Run, Cancer Walk, Cancer Walk RI, Walk RI, Run RI, Rhode Island Walk, Rhode Island Cancer, Cancer Walks in RI, Cancer Run in RI, Run for charity, Run in RI, cancer run, cancer walk, cancer walk ri, cancer run ri, esophageal cancer, cancer of the esophagus, cancer, esophageal cancer ri, cancer of esophagus, ri cancer, cancer awareness, cancer research, cancer prevention, ri cancer research, ri cancer prevention, ri cancer treatment, ri cancer charity, charity ri, charity, cancer, treat esophageal cancer, treat cancer, treatment of esophageal cancer, treatment of esophageal cancer ri, acid reflux, heartburn can cause cancer, heartburn ri, acid reflux ri, heartburn, heartburn remedy, heartburn remedies, acid reflux remedies, charity run ri, charity walk ri, run for cancerTalk to your doctor if you experience heartburn more than twice a week, as that can be a symptom of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), which is one of the major risk factor for esophageal cancer.  Patients who experience GERD symptoms for more than five years and have other risk factors associated with esophageal cancer, such as being overweight or smoking, are at an elevated risk of developing esophageal cancer.

Unfortunately, esophageal cancer is often detected late because symptoms do not occur until the cancer has progressed. 

This is why we stress the importance of speaking to your doctor about your frequent GERD symptoms and discuss the different ways in which they can be controlled.  For many, lifestyle changes, such as monitoring food and beverage ‘reflux triggers’ and losing weight, can help alleviate acid reflux.  (Click here to read more tips on how to manage acid reflux.)

Too often, esophageal cancer is diagnosed at advanced and/or incurable stages due to the late onset of symptoms. This makes the cancer difficult if not impossible to treat and often results in 80% of patients diagnosed with esophageal cancer dying within the first year.

Let’s work together to change the statistics regarding esophageal cancer.  If you are experiencing frequent acid reflux, consult your doctor and be sure to also share this message with your family and friends.  Click on the share buttons below to spread the word and save lives!

 

 

Gastro.net.au
MayoClinic
American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy 

RefluxMD: “Diagnosing GERD: The First Step Towards Treatment”

January 16, 2014

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) elevates one’s risk of developing esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma.)  The risk further increases based on the severity of symptoms (ie. heartburn and regurgitation from the stomach) and how long it goes without being properly treated.

The United States National Library of Medicine defines GERD as “a condition in which the stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach).” This occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the muscle between the esophagus and stomach, becomes damaged or weakened.

Esophageal cancer adenocarinoma is the fastest growing cancer in the United States and also one of the deadliest cancers.  Since the cancer is often detected late, the survival rate is extremely low.   Therefore, it is crucial to speak to your doctor if you or someone you know is suffering from frequent heartburn and/or regurgitation.

There are many tests that can be performed to accurately diagnose GERD.  Too often, PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) are prescribed by doctors for the treatment of GERD.  PPIs function are to only manage GERD symptoms they do not repair the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Unfortunately, these medications do not relieve all patients from their GERD symptoms and they are not intended to be taken for a long period of time as they can cause serious long-term health effects.

Our friends at RefluxMD put together a fantastic article which describes the various ways your doctor can assess your condition.  Don’t ignore frequent heartburn!  Take the very first step in managing your GERD symptoms by reading this article.  Click here to learn more.

We are thankful for resources such as our friends at RefluxMD.  By working together, we can continue to raise awareness of esophageal cancer and dangerous risk factors such as GERD.


RefluxMD: Don’t be fooled, your heartburn could be serious

June 20, 2013

RefluxMD: Don’t be fooled, your heartburn could be serious

by Dr. Dengler

Heartburn can become an escalating problem if ignored. It can also be a dangerous condition if it is masked by just taking antacids.

Most people believe, however, that recurring acid reflux is a normal part of over-eating or sampling spicy food. These acid reflux sufferers don’t realize that one out of every three adults struggle with heartburn and regurgitation on a monthly basis, with 50 million people battling symptoms several times per week.

A nagging problem of heartburn and acid reflux seems easy to fix when watching the many pharmaceutical commercials claiming that a colored pill, taken daily, can solve the problem; in fact many Americans have accepted big pharma’s suggested solution as an easy fix to their woes.

Today, the drug industry sells over $14 billion in heartburn medications. The popular drug is in a class called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that work by reducing the amount of acid produced within the stomach.

Unfortunately, the millions of people who take these prescription drugs or over the counter medications are masking a serious and developing problem.

Unknown to millions of people regularly taking PPI pills to solve their heartburn is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning labels on these prescription drugs clearly states that patients should take the pills for no more than 14 days of temporary relief.

Two weeks of blocked calcium production in your stomach is the maximum timeframe recommended by medical doctors to mask acid reflux without being under the care of a physician—any longer can have serious negative consequences.

If you have heartburn for longer than 14 days then you have a bigger problem than a pill can help solve.

The stomach pains or burning sensation you feel are signals from your body that something is wrong. An acidic stomach is normal and is necessary for the efficient digestion of food.

So why are you getting those pains frequently? Simple, it is due to a small valve at the end of your esophagus called the LES, or your lower esophageal sphincter.

A healthy LES acts as barrier in keeping stomach contents where they belong — in your stomach.

The LES frequently becomes damaged, and when it does, those acidic stomach contents can flow up into the esophagus. When stomach acid leaves your stomach, it can be painful.

In fact, over 200,000 individuals visit emergency rooms each year believing they are having a heart attack only to learn that their pain was from acid reflux and not from a heart problem.

Unfortunately, for a segment of those with reflux disease, heartburn can progress to a precancerous condition called Barrett’s Esophagus, and in some cases, it can advance to adenocarcinoma, better known as esophageal cancer.

In fact, the incidence of esophageal cancer is the fastest growing of all cancers in the U.S., outpacing melanomas, breast and prostate cancers.

PPIs have proven to relieve symptoms, and for several medical conditions, they are highly valuable for short to mid-term use.

However, they are not a cure.

As they cannot strengthen or repair the LES, the cause of gastroesophageal reflux disease, they can only mask the symptoms. As a result, the disease continues indefinitely.

At a recent gastroesophageal conference, Dr. David Kleiman with the Department of Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College presented a research study documenting that 32% of PPI use beyond an initial 8-week trial was unnecessary since there was “no evidence of reflux disease” with those individuals.

According to Dr. Kleiman, “PPIs continue to be misused and overused in a large percent of our population.”

If you are experiencing regular heartburn and think you are solving your problem by consistently taking an acid production blocker, you may be masking a serious problem.

Even worse, you could be increasing your troubles by subjecting yourself to the dangerous and common side-effects of routine PPI usage.

Instead of turning to costly, unnecessary, and often dangerous pills, you should consult your physician and create a real plan to manage your acid reflux.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/06/13/dont-be-fooled-your-heartburn-could-be-serious/