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Navicent Health Raises Awareness of Esophageal Cancers Causes and Preventative Treatments

While a cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event, there are many steps people can take to prevent certain forms of cancer, including esophageal cancer. This April, in recognition of Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, Atrium Health Navicent will raise awareness of esophageal cancer and encourages healthy lifestyle habits that may prevent this condition.

The esophagus is the long, muscular tube that moves food from the mouth to the stomach. According to the American Cancer Society, esophageal cancer is the sixth most common form of cancer worldwide, and is most common in men. Approximately 17,650 esophageal cancer cases are diagnosed each year (13,750 in men and 3,900 in women), and approximately 16,080 deaths each year are related to the condition.

Fortunately, people may take a number of steps to decrease their risk for developing esophageal cancer, including the following:

Avoid tobacco use - Tobacco use is the most common lifestyle risk factor for developing esophageal cancer in the United States. Avoiding tobacco use is the first step toward esophageal cancer prevention.

Atrium Health Navicent offers free monthly tobacco cessation classes at Peyton Anderson Cancer Center, Atrium Health Navicent (800 First Street, Macon). To learn more, call 478-633-2614.

Eat a healthy diet - A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help protect against esophageal cancer. Obesity has also been linked to a heightened risk for esophageal cancer.

Seek treatment for persistent acid reflux - Persistent acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can lead to a condition called Barrett's esophagus. If left untreated, Barrett's esophagus can lead to cancer.

Heartburn Treatment Center, Atrium Health Navicent provides an array of treatment options - including the revolutionary LINX magnetic device - for those who suffer with GERD, the most prevalent gastrointestinal disease in the U.S. Atrium Health Navicent is currently the only hospital in the area offering LINX as an option for those who suffer from GERD.

"GERD is a chronic, often progressive disease resulting from a weak lower esophageal sphincter that allows harmful gastric fluid to reflux into the esophagus, causing both pain and injury to the esophageal lining. GERD is associated with a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett's esophagus, which increases the risk of esophageal cancer. Barrett's esophagus occurs when the esophagus is chronically exposed to gastric contents of the stomach. With prolonged acid exposure, normal cells in the esophagus can undergo a genetic change and are then vulnerable to further changes that can lead to cancer. It's important to treat GERD before it becomes pre-cancerous or cancerous," said Dr. Joel Judah, gastroenterologist with Gastroenterology Center, Atrium Health Navicent.

For more information on treatment options for GERD, please visit

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent, the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia, is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Providing more than 1,000 beds and offering care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region, Atrium Health Navicent provides care for healthcare consumers' through an academic medical center; community, pediatric and rehabilitation hospitals; urgent care centers; physician practices; diagnostic centers; home health; hospice and palliative care; and a life plan community. Atrium Health Navicent is dedicated enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally-recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. For more information, please visit