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Is Heartburn a Sign of Stomach Cancer?

Acid indigestion, also known as heartburn, can be an unpleasant experience for any sufferer. A painful burning sensation can be felt in the chest and often up into the throat. Certain foods have been known to cause heartburn, especially spicy ingredients like chili powder. Frequent heartburn can be also be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which causes inflammation of the esophagus. But doctors are now warning that persistent heartburn could be a sign of stomach or esophageal cancer.

A campaign in the United Kingdom is encouraging people to talk to their doctor if they have frequent heartburn or difficult swallowing for three weeks or more. Since most people may not even be aware that they are experiencing symptoms, it is important to play it safe. Currently, the UK has the highest rate of esophageal cancer in the European Union, with 10,000 dying of the disease every year.

Awareness of the signs and symptoms of esophageal and stomach cancers are the key to early detection. When caught soon, cancers like this are treatable and have a better survival rate than when it has further progressed. Some of the most common warning signs are persistent indigestion, frequent burping or nausea, and pain in the top of the stomach. Understanding and admitting these symptoms are critical to the cancers being discovered.

Professor Michael Griffin, a surgeon who specializing in these cancers urges citizens to speak up if they have any of the symptoms. "You won't be wasting your doctor's time - you will either get reassurance that it isn't cancer, or if it is, you will have a better chance of successful treatment." Studies have shown that many people resist visiting their physician unless absolutely necessary, for many different reasons. Some are afraid of bad news, are in denial of their symptoms, or may have concerns about high medical bills.

In the United Kingdom, public health professionals are rolling out the big guns when it comes to battling esophageal and stomach cancers. Here in the US, the PR campaigns have not begun quite yet, although doctors do recommend discussing any concerns you have. While frequent heartburn doesn’t always mean the C Word, it can still be unpleasant. Depending on the cause of your pain, your doctor can recommend a variety of options for relief.

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