July 29--In the wake of media reports that Dolly Parton underwent surgery to
address reflux disease, the nonprofit Esophageal Cancer Action Network issued a
news release aimed at raising awareness of links between the disease and cancer.
The type of esophageal cancer caused by reflux disease has increased by more
than 400 percent in the past 20 years in the United States, according to the
network. Often, this cancer variety is deadly because it's caught late. Patients
too frequently think that heartburn is a benign condition.
Factors that may put people at risk of developing esophageal cancer:
--You have more than occasional heartburn symptoms.
--You have experienced heartburn in the past, but the symptoms have gone away.
--You have a family history of esophageal cancer or Barrett's esophagus.
--You have pain or difficulty swallowing.
--You have a persistent, unexplained cough.
--You have been speaking with a hoarse voice over several weeks.
--You have a persistent, unexplained sore throat.
--You cough or choke when you lie down.
In a free, downloadable publication the network provides information to help
people understand their risk and what they should do about it.
Parton's surgery could not be independently confirmed.
-- Katy Muldoon
(c)2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
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