“Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States, and early detection is vital. Transnasal esophagoscopy (TNE) is the best way to screen large populations of patients for this cancer, because TNE is safer and more cost-effective than any other method. ” Dr. Jamie A. Koufman
Today, acid reflux, esophageal cancer, and precancer, usually called “Barrett’s esophagus,” has become epidemic. In the past fifty years, esophageal cancer has increased over 800%. Equally troubling, the number of cases of Barrett’s precancer has grown, and is still growing, even faster. In reported series from the medical literature, 7% to 10% of patients with acid reflux disease undergoing esophageal endoscopy have Barrett’s. Nowadays, Barrett’s can be treated medically and with a technique called ablation.
Early diagnosis of esophageal cancer makes a big difference, and the earlier, the better. That is why we recommend routine esophageal screening examinations by transnasal esophagoscopy (TNE) for all patients with symptoms. If your primary care doctor or a gastroenterologist diagnoses you with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), particularly if you are over 40 years of age, you should have a TNE performed. If your ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor diagnoses you with laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), you should have a TNE performed. Remember, the advantage of TNE is that it is accurate in detecting early disease. Furthermore, biopsies may be obtained in the awake patient without pain, because the lower esophagus is not very sensitive.
Just recently, I heard of a case of esophageal cancer in which the patient had had many months of difficulty swallowing and weight loss. This means that the cancer was probably large, and thus the prognosis for cure is lower that it might have been if it had been detected earlier. The message here is if you have difficulty swallowing and/or unexplained weight loss, you should be examined without delay.
See also the references in the Articles and Publications section of the website.