Cancer Treatment Cost Versus Cancer Survival Rates: A Look At Esophageal Cancer

March 5, 2015

A new study compares how much money is spent on cancer treatment to the overall of decrease in cancer mortality rates.

Dr. Samir Soneji of Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center and The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice published a study titled “New Analysis Reexamines the Value of Cancer Care in the United States Compared to Western Europe.”

Dr. Soneji stated in an article “Despite sharp increases in spending on cancer treatment, cancer mortality rates in the United States have decreased only modestly since 1970.”

When it comes to esophageal cancer, the amount of money which is actually spent on esophageal cacner care each year compared to the incidence and mortality rates is on par with Dr. Soneji’s findings.

In 2014, “an estimated $1.6 billion was spent on esophageal cancer care in the United States,” according to the National Cancer Institute.

A 2010 study titled “Projections of the Cost of Cancer Care in the U.S.: 2010-2020” found that esophageal cancer is among a group of cancers which has the largest net cost of care in the United States.

Despite these increasing annual costs, esophageal cancer remains one of the deadliest cancers in the United States.

While the overall five-year survival rate for esophageal cancer has improved since the mid 1970s when it was only 4.0%, esophageal cancer still shows poor survival rates. Currently, esophageal cancer has an overall five-year survival rate of only 17.5%.

“The greatest number of deaths averted occurred in cancers for which decreasing mortality rates were more likely to be the result of successful prevention and screening rather than advancements in treatment,” Dr. Soneji stated.

Unfortunately, there are no routine or standard screenings to improve early diagnosis of esophageal cancer. Many are not aware of the risk factors associated with esophageal cancer, including acid reflux disease or GERD (chronic heartburn being the most common symptom), obesity, smoking and poor nutrition, among others.

To make matters worse, symptoms of esophageal cancer (for example, difficulty swallowing and choking while eating) typically occur once the cancer has spread in the esophagus, other organs and/or lymph nodes. When esophageal cancer becomes more advanced it becomes much more difficult to treat. Patients diagnosed with Stage IV advanced esophageal cancer face a survival rate of 3.8%.

Despite these facts, esophageal cancer research is extremely underfunded.

In 2011, the National Institute of Health (NIH) of the United States only funded 30 esophageal cancer studies spending only $13 million.*

The National Cancer Institute reduced funding for esophageal cancer research again in 2014. The NCI spent only $26.5 million out of their total $4.79 billion budget for esophageal cancer research, with only 8% allocated for prevention research.

The only way to make a difference and reduce the amount of incidences and deaths resulting from esophageal cancer is to raise awareness, create standards for early detection screenings and to fund innovative research.


Sources & Further Reading:
US spends more on cancer care, saves fewer lives than Western Europe, Science Daily 

SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Esophageal Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, 

A Snapshot of Esophageal Cancer, National Cancer Institute 

Chai, Jianyuan, and M Mazen Jamal. “Esophageal Malignancy: A Growing Concern.” World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG 18.45 (2012): 6521–6526.PMC. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.

Mariotto AB, Yabroff KR, Shao Y, Feuer EJ, Brown ML. Projections of the Cost of Cancer Care in the U.S.: 2010-2020. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Jan.

Obama, complaining of sore throat, diagnosed with acid reflux

December 7, 2014

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama, who had medical tests on Saturday after complaining of a sore throat, is suffering from acid reflux, the president’s physician said.

“The president’s symptoms are consistent with soft tissue inflammation related to acid reflux and will be treated accordingly,” Obama’s doctor, Captain Ronny Jackson, said in a statement.

Acid reflux is a condition in which the stomach contents flow back up from the stomach into the esophagus, causing such symptoms as heartburn and sore throat.

Obama, 53, went to Walter Reed military hospital for a fiber optic exam of his throat and since swelling was detected, doctors decided to perform a CT scan as well, Jackson said.

“The CT scan was conducted this afternoon purely as a matter of convenience for the President’s schedule. The CT scan was normal,” Jackson added.

Jackson said he recommended Obama go to Walter Reed for the tests after the president complained of suffering from a sore throat over the past couple of weeks.

Jackson did not give any cause for Obama’s case of the illness. There are many risk factors for acid reflux, including smoking, use of alcohol and hiatal hernia, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Most people respond to lifestyle changes and medicines, although many patients need to continue on medication to control their symptoms.

Click here to read the full article "Obama, complaining of sore throat, diagnosed with acid reflux" on

Acid reflux disease, also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD, is one of the primary risk factors associated with esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.

It is imperative that people who suffer from heartburn more than twice weekly speak to their doctor.   There are no routine or standard screening tests for esophageal cancer.  Unfortunately, symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing or food getting stuck, typically appear once the cancer has advanced and becomes difficult to treat.

Chronic and severe acid reflux can significantly damage the esophagus.  Not only can it increase the risk of esophageal cancer, but it can lead to other serious health problems, such as ulcers, bleeding and scarring.

Lifestyle changes can help to reduce GERD symptoms.  Click here for some tips to control your acid reflux.

Some medications help to temporarily alleviate GERD symptoms.  However, these medications are typically not intended to be taken for an extended periods of time.  Remember to read the label on these medications and consider the side effects.

Some patients may be candidates for nonsurgical, less invasive options to treat GERD.

As advocates for esophageal health and the prevention of esophageal cancer, we urge everyone suffering from chronic heartburn to consult a medical professional.  Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and options.


Support Esophageal Cancer Awareness This #GivingTuesday

December 2, 2014

giving tuesday periwinkle esophageal cancer the salgi esophageal cancer research foundation

Today is Giving Tuesday! The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation is honored to participate in this third annual event.  In 2012, a group of nonprofit professionals decided to create an annual day of giving.  They positioned it around the biggest days of consuming, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday opens the giving season and with your help, we will raise funds to spread awareness, encourage early detection and support research of esophageal cancer…in hopes of a cure.™  

How can you help make Giving Tuesday a success?

  • Help us get the word out on social media by visiting and liking our pages: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram;
  • Consider a donation:, as a 501(c)(3) charity, all donations are tax-deductible;
  • Share photos of your loved ones who have been affected by esophageal cancer on social media. Tag us in the photos and we’ll re-post them on our pages;
  • Invite your co-workers, family members and friends to contribute by using the message below via social media or email:


I am supporting The Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation today on Giving Tuesday and I hope you will, too!  [Optional: Insert personal story/reason for helping.]  Did you know esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute? You can support awareness and research efforts by making a tax-deductible donating online:, and by sharing this information with your friends, family and colleagues by email or on Facebook and/or Twitter.  Thank you in advance!


Giving Tuesday helps to unite us in the spirit of giving and to bring a spotlight to esophageal cancer, a cause that needs desperate attention.  Let’s make this Giving Tuesday a great success! Thank you in advance for helping to make a difference today and every day.