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New treatment being used to prevent esophageal cancer

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Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the nation, killing nearly 85 percent of those diagnosed within five years. What makes it so dangerous is the fact that many times, it is discovered too late.

However, a relatively new treatment, known as endoscopic radiofrequency ablation therapy, is being used to prevent the cancer before it even starts.

“We would inflate the balloon around this Barrett’s tissue a little further down, cauterizes it and then move it a little further downstream also. And that way we are able to eliminate and cauterize all this tissue,” said Dr. Brian Sperl at Franciscan St. Francis Health.

The Barrett’s tissue that Dr. Sperl refers to can be pre-cancerous. More than three million people have it. Finding and eliminating it early, can mean the difference between life and death.

“By cauterizing that, when you come back a few weeks later, you usually see fairly normal tissue which has repopulated the area that was previously found to be Barrett’s tissue,” explains Dr. Sperl.

Jack Brown was diagnosed with Barrett’s, and is undergoing the treatment. He said he has a positive outlook on things now, knowing he may have avoided the deadly cancer.

“I feel fairly confident that the treatment is going to work and I’ll be around for a while,” said Brown.

Dr. Sperl said chronic heartburn and acid reflux over several months or even years, can be a sign that you may have Barrett’s esophagus. More information is available online.

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