How can I protect myself?
Having a risk factor, or even several, does not necessarily mean that you will contract oesophageal cancer. Many people with risk factors never develop oesophageal cancer; others are affected by the illness despite not being in any at-risk category. However, we strongly recommend you control and minimise your level of risk by taking the following precautions:
- Manage your weight: Check with your doctor to find out what a healthy weight goal is for you and use diet and exercise to aim for it.
- Stop over-relying on antacids: It is easy to pass off acid indigestion and heartburn as short-term, run-of-the-mill irritations that can be eased with supermarket medicines. If you experience reflux over a prolonged period, notify your GP.
- Eat lighter foods: Getting your five-a-day servings of fruit and vegetables can be crucial in keeping oesophageal cancer at bay. Try not to make red and processed meats form too great a part of your daily meals. Avoid spicy and fatty foods if you are prone to heartburn.
- Drink less: Consume alcohol in moderation and, especially cut back on spirits.
- No smoking: If you are a smoker make it your mission to quit cigarettes.
- Get screened: Screening has been shown to be beneficial for those at high risk, particularly for people who are older, obese, heavy drinkers/smokers, or have a history of acid reflux. Screening can detect oesophageal cancer before symptoms are present and the earlier cancer is identified, the easier it is to treat.