Surgery Not a Factor in Esophageal Cancer

Article excerpt

A study in the December 2001 issue of Gastroenterology reported that patients who have undergone stomach surgery are not at a higher risk for esophageal cancer. These results dispute the idea that when a patient undergoes surgery to remove part of the stomach, usually a result of gastric or duodenal ulcers, the risk of Barrett's esophagus increases. Barrett's esophagus, a condition associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), has been shown in some patients to be a precursor to esophageal cancer.

"It was previously thought that varying amounts of bile associated with acid reflux into the esophagus represented one possible cause of Barrettes esophagus. Bile reflux is rather common after gastric surgery," said Amnon Sonnenberg, M.D., M.Sc., professor of medicine at the New Mexico Veterans Affairs Health Care System and one of the study authors.

The authors obtained information on 1,016 patients with Barrett's esophagus and on 3,047 patients without the condition. Along with a history of gastric surgery, they also examined age, gender, ethnicity, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and the presence of hiatal hernia (a condition in which a portion of the stomach protrudes upward into the chest through an opening in the diaphragm). …