In 2006, Gov. John Baldacci proclaimed Sept. 13 Maine’s Esophageal Cancer Awareness Day.

Since then, many Mainers have taken positive steps to ensure their good health by educating themselves about this horrific form of cancer.

Esophageal cancer is still regarded as rare, even though it has grown 800 percent since the late 1980s. It is more common in men than women in this country, and is more common in men older than 65.

The American Cancer Association estimates that this year 17,460 new cases will be diagnosed and 15,070 people with the disease will die. This statistic is sickening.

Because of a lack of clear symptoms, it is usually difficult to diagnose esophageal cancer.

The most common symptoms are gastroesophageal reflux disease, chest pain unrelated to eating, weight loss, vomiting blood, and difficulty swallowing liquids or solids. By the time swallowing problems arise, the cancer usually is in stage 3 or 4.

This was the case with my late husband, John. He lived only four months after his diagnosis.

Much has been learned since 2006 about esophageal cancer, its treatment and results; however, much more research is needed.

If you, or anyone you know, has experienced the above symptoms, please contact your physician.

A few simple tests can save lives.

Connie Corrigan

Former board member, Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association

Wells


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