_Health - General Health

Apr 11, 2011 10:55 AM by Press Release

April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month in Louisiana

Esophageal Cancer is the fastest increasing cancer diagnosis in the U.S. - up more
than 400 percent in the past 20 years - and it is usually a death sentence. Perhaps most
shocking, for Americans, it is usually caused by persistent heartburn or acid reflux
disease. In the U.S., someone dies of this disease every 36 minutes.

Those are some of the reasons Governor Bobby Jindal has proclaimed April to be Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month in the state of Louisiana. In a proclamation dated April 1, 2011,
Gov. Jindal designated this special observance because "Esophageal Cancer awareness along with improvements in prevention. early detection and treatment strategies will enhance the health and well-being of all the citizens of Louisiana".

The designation of April as Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month is part of a movement going on across the country to bring attention to this often-ignored disease. Families across the nation who have been touched by Esophageal Cancer are working with the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN) to raise public awareness of the fact that Heartburn can cause Cancer.

No one understands better why that attention is necessary than Melinda Maxwell, whose husband Conrad died September 9, 2008 from Esophageal Cancer. Melinda got involved in building awareness because she doesn't want other families to experience the pain her family has endured.

"We know that people can survive this disease if it's detected early enough. I only wish someone had been out here warning us before my husband became ill," said Melinda Maxwell of Lafayette.

Esophageal Cancer has such a poor survival rate largely because it is usually
discovered at late stages. That's why ECAN's early detection message is so important.
With early detection, new medical procedures have produced cure rates of 98 percent.

Until two years ago, there was no national advocacy organization fighting Esophageal Cancer.
But the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN) led by top physicians, business
leaders and families the cancer has touched is tackling this devastating disease head
on. ECAN is working to make sure those with persistent heartburn become aware of
the risk of developing this disease that kills more than 80 percent of those who
develop it.

ECAN has launched an aggressive, nationwide public awareness campaign, including
an effort for the first-ever designation of National Esophageal Cancer Awareness
month in April.

As part of its Awareness Month campaign, ECAN is providing EC Awareness Month "Reach Out Kits" to health care providers, patients and advocates who want to increase understanding about the link between Heartburn and Cancer. The kits contain posters, informational brochures and periwinkle blue wristbands bearing ECAN's life-saving message: Heartburn can cause Cancer. Find out more at www.ecan.org. Periwinkle blue is the color designated for Esophageal Cancer Awareness.

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