Health Discoveries in Esophageal Cancer

Certain cancers persist years after smoking stops

April 4, 2011
Italian researchers who reviewed data from 33 past studies concluded that some types of throat and stomach cancer can develop in smokers even if they quit the habit years before.

The study, published in the journal Epidemiology, showed that smokers have twice the risk of developing such cancer - called an adenocarcinoma – compared to those who have never smoked. In addition, former smokers still have a 62 percent higher risk than non-smokers. For esophageal cancer, the added risk continues for as much as 30 years after someone stops smoking.

"Stopping smoking is highly beneficial at any age, but it appears that for these cancers the risk decreases only slowly," according to Dr. Eva Negri, senior researcher at the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy.

While adenocarcinomas are not common in the U.S. and other western countries, they have increased in recent years and may be linked to a rise in obesity rates. However, the risk of Americans developing lung cancer, for instance, is considerable higher, the American Cancer Society reports.

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, the Esophageal Cancer Program has a team of thoracic surgeons, gastroenterologists, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists to treat esophageal cancer patients.
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