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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What lifestyle measures can help prevent oesophageal cancer?

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  • 7


    Dr Michael Swan


    Michael Swan is a Gastroenterologist specialising in endoscopy, pancreaticobiliary disease and gastrointestinal cancer screening. Michael trained in clinical endoscopy with leaders in the field both … View Profile

    There are several ways to reduce your risk of oesophageal adenocancinoma, however none have been formally tested and proved in medical trial.  Many of the lifestyle changes would also potentially prevent other cancers as well as generally improving your overall health. 
    1. Lose weight, good diet and exercise. Obesity is a strong risk factor for development of gastrooesophageal reflux and Barrett's disease (a precursor disease for oesophageal cancer) along with oesophageal cancer. A balanced low fat diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, would be generally recommended. 
    2. Quit smoking
    3. Reduce alcohol intake

    Along with the above measures (which the vast majority of the population should be doing anyway!), also being aware of the need to investigate (and treat) longstanding gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and any changes to swallowing function.  

  • 7


    Mr Dean Spilias

    Upper GI Surgeon (Abdominal)

    Dean graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1997 and went on to surgical training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. During his residency he had … View Profile

    I would support Dr Swan's comments. Lifestyle is important, but there is no “magic bullet”, and oesophageal cancer is one of the cancers that is becoming more and more common. 

    Early detection can improve the chances of surviving oesophageal cancer. The best test for early detection is a gastroscopy. Some of the “danger signs” include the new onset of heartburn or reflux; difficulty swallowing; weight loss; pain on swallowing; or a change in previously-stable heartburn or reflux symptoms. 

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