Chronic heartburn can cause esophageal cancer. But people who suffer from heartburn often don't get screened for cancer, and the results can be deadly.
Heartburn can lead to a condition called "Barrett's esophagus." Barrett's esophagus is a strong, and only known, risk factor for cancer of the esophagus.
New research conducted in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery shows that an alternate screening technique that does not require sedation is just as effective in identifying Barrett’s esophagus or cancer as the traditional method. It is less invasive, less costly, and carries less risk due to no sedation - and could be mobile.
The researchers showed that using a mobile van to bring the screening to neighborhood locations (for example, a mall parking lot) is equally effective to hospital-based screening, and may increase screening rates due to convenience and a less formal setting.
Incidence of this deadly cancer has been rising rapidly, and exceeds that of melanoma, lung, colon and breast cancers. Early diagnosis and treatment dramatically increases life expectancy, yet screening and early diagnosis rates remain low.
This approach offers a new opportunity to reduce death and disability from esophageal cancer.
This study was published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. The research is part of ongoing efforts in the center to identify ways to improve population health and lower costs of care.