Esophageal Cancer is the fastest increasing cancer diagnosis in the U.S. ? up more than 400% in the past 20 years ? and it usually a death sentence. Perhaps most shocking, for Americans, it is usually caused by persistent heartburn or acid reflux disease. In the U.S., someone dies of this disease every 36 minutes.

Esophageal Cancer has such a poor survival rate largely because it is usually discovered at late stages. That’s whyearly detectionis so important. With early detection, new medical procedures have produced cure rates of 98%. Esophageal cancer occurs most often in men over 50 years old. Two main types of esophageal cancer exist: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

Cause of Esophageal Cancer
Squamous cell esophageal cancer is associated with smoking and alcohol consumption. This type of esophageal cancer arises in squamous cells that line the esophagus. It usually develops in the upper and middle part of the esophagus.
Barrett’s esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), significantly increases the risk for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. This type of cancer begins in the glandular tissue in the lower part of the esophagus at the junction between the esophagus and the stomach. In addition to GERD, risk factors for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus include alcohol use, male gender, obesity, poor nutrition and smoking.

Esophageal Cancer Action Network
Until two years ago, there was no national advocacy organization fighting Esophageal Cancer. But the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN) led by top physicians, business leaders and families the cancer has touched, is tackling this devastating disease head on. The Esophageal Cancer Action Network is working to make sure those with persistent heartburn become aware of their risk of developing a disease that kills more than 80% of those who develop it.

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ECAN’s Executive Director Mindy Mintz Mordecai is emphatic about the importance of screening for Esophageal Cancer. “These new developments in treating the precancerous and early stages of the disease make early detection of this cancer so important because, if we find it early, people can now be cured ? they don’t just get a better chance of survival ? they can be cured!”

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Awareness Campaign
ECAN has launched an aggressive, nationwide public awareness campaign, including an effort for the first-ever designation of National Esophageal Cancer Awareness month in April. As part of its Awareness Month campaign, ECAN will provide EC Awareness Month kits to physicians, patients and advocates who want to increase understanding about the link between Heartburn and Cancer.

ECAN will kick off Esophageal Cancer Awareness month with two fun filled events on Sunday, April 3, 2011. The Cancer Dancer at Towson University in suburban Baltimore will include an appearance by Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. The Harsh Golf Scramble in suburban Orlando, Florida is a tribute to Floridian Paul Harshbarger, an avid golfer who lost his battle with Esophageal Cancer in 2008.

ECAN was founded by former television reporter and attorney Mindy Mintz Mordecai after her husband’s death from Esophageal Cancer in 2008. What began as an annual dance event conceived by the Mordecais’ 12-year-old daughter grew to a national movement that fills a huge void no other organization had filled.

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