You may not know this, but April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month.
A fairly new cancer type to have a designated cancer awareness month, esophageal cancer can be difficult to detect at an early stage. Possible symptoms of esophageal cancer include heartburn and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as chronic acid reflux. People with GERD may have a higher risk of developing esophageal cancer in their lifetime.
Some people may think frequent acid reflux is just an unlucky symptom that they have to deal with. But Mindy Mintz Mordecai, Founder and President and CEO of Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN), urges you to pay attention to possible signs and symptoms of esophageal cancer, just to be safe.
Mordecai has good reason to promote early detection. Her husband passed away five years ago of esophageal cancer. His chronic acid reflux ended up being an indicator of the disease. When her husband passed, Mordecai searched for an organization to help spread the word on early detection and the link between esophageal cancer and acid reflux. But she soon discovered that no such organization existed.
So, she decided to create one. ECAN was founded in 2009, and through its efforts, 40 states now designate April as Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month. From 5ks to the gala “Cancer Dancer”, ECAN is raising money to help fund esophageal cancer research and to get people talking on a national level about early detection.
“As part of our community outreach, you can order a Reach Out kit to display wherever you choose. At your church, grocery store, doctor’s office. The free kit includes posters, wristbands and brochures to increase awareness,” Mordecai explains.
ECAN has also produced a Guide for Patients which provides comprehensive information about the link between heartburn and esophageal cancer. This guide is intended to help people become active participants in their health by arming them with information, such as when to talk to your doctor about possible esophageal cancer symptoms. This patient empowerment can help people feel more in control of their health and wellness.
To find out more information about ECAN, visit www.ecan.org. Want to get more involved? Learn how you can help become an ambassador in your community. And don’t forget to wear your periwinkle (blue/purple) to support esophageal cancer research and early detection!