Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month
April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, a time to learn the facts about esophageal cancer and become familiar with the symptoms and risk factors.
Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancer diagnoses in the United States, with nearly 18,000 new cases diagnosed each year, according to the Esophageal Cancer Action Network. One American dies of esophageal cancer every 36 minutes, which makes awareness and education so important.
Esophageal cancer is not entirely preventable, but knowing the risk factors and recognizing the symptoms can aid in early diagnosis.
Risk factors for esophageal cancer include:
• Alcohol usage
• Hiatal Hernia
Common symptoms of esophageal cancer include:
• Difficult or painful swallowing
• Weight loss
• Blood in the stool
• Loss of appetite
• Feeling very tired
• Heartburn (GERD)
• Pain in the throat or back
• Hoarseness or coughing
If you experience symptoms of esophageal cancer or feel that you may be at risk, schedule an appointment with your health care provider. Your doctor will review your health history, symptoms, and perform a physical exam to determine if further testing is necessary. Don’t be afraid to mention any questions or concerns you may have.
Learn more about esophageal cancer.
Read a patient’s personal journey through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from esophageal cancer.
Sarcoidosis Awareness Month
National Sarcoidosis Awareness Month brings attention to sarcoidosis and encourages further research into this rare condition. There are more than 200,000 people in the US with sarcoidosis, according to the CHEST Foundation.
Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease in which the immune system goes into overdrive, causing cells to group together into clumps called granulomas. While more than 90% of cases affect the lungs and lymph nodes, sarcoidosis also can cause skin and eye damage. Occasionally, those with sarcoidosis develop granulomas and inflammation in their hearts, which can trigger abnormal heart rhythms and heart failure.
Sarcoidosis can affect people of any age, but 70% of patients are ages 20 to 40, reports the CHEST Foundation. In addition, women are more likely to develop sarcoidosis.
Many patients never have symptoms, and the disease is diagnosed only because a chest X-ray is taken for another reason. In most of these cases, the disease improves by itself. However, your overactive immune system may lead to flu-like symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Night sweats
- Joint pain
After you’re diagnosed with sarcoidosis, your doctor will determine if you need treatment. If your symptoms are severe or organ function is threatened, you will likely be treated with medication. Organ transplant may be considered if sarcoidosis has severely damaged the lungs, heart, or liver. However, up to 30% of patients with sarcoidosis have symptoms improve without treatment. But even if there are no symptoms, patients with sarcoidosis should have breathing tests, electrocardiogram, blood tests, and an eye examination to uncover possible problems that may need to be addressed.
For more information, visit the CHEST Foundation.