Esophageal Cancer Risk Seen In More Women - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/14/06-Tyler

Esophageal Cancer Risk Seen In More Women

Ann Richards had the type of esophageal cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma.

"Out of all the malignants only 1% of is esophageal cancer," says Dr. Svetislava Vukelja with Tyler Cancer Center. 

Dr. V attributes smoking and drinking to Richards' diagnosis.  She says these same habits are why the disease is being seen in more women.

Dr. V describes the symptoms,"The problem is picked up when a patient cannot swallow things, the tumor has grown into the [esophagus] obstructing the flow--usually solids first then liquids. When things get completely closed off and they can't eat, then we go with a tube through the stomach so patients can feed themselves directly to survive."

When cancer is found in the lower third of the esophagus it's easier to detect and treat.

But the esophageal cancer Richards had was in the upper two-thirds area.

Dr. V says there are no early screening tests out there to detect it.

Richards' death came just six months after she made her diagnosis public.

"It tells you what kind of disease we're dealing with. And she was treated at a very good institution," says Dr. V.

While Richards' legacy has opened doors for women and minorities, maybe it will bring more attention to what has been categorized as a man's disease.

Dr. V says the best way women can decrease their risk of the disease is to avoid smoking and drinking altogether.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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