By Dr. Deanna Lites

DETROIT (WWJ) – While some cancer rates have fallen over the years, esophageal cancers are on the rise — and while they have a high death rate — there is encouraging news in the field of cancer prevention.

Now researchers hope that a new screening test will change those numbers says WWJ Health Reporter Dr. Deanna Lites.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve have developed a simple five-minute test to prevent esophageal cancer by catching it at the pre-cancerous level, a stage called Barrett’s esophagus.

Oncologist and researcher Dr. Sandy Markowitz says the test can help determine the course of treatment — as needed.

“Barrett’s that looks like it’s about to become cancer can be cut out or burned out or frozen out — keeping the cancers from ever occurring,” says Markowitz.

Here’s how the test works:

The patient swallows a pill the size of a vitamin that’s attached to a spaghetti like string.

The pill swabs the esophagus, then is removed from the mouth and tested for abnormal cells.

Markowtiz says the test has a 90 percent accuracy rate in determining whether a patient does or does not have Barrett’s esophageal cancer.

Those who would benefit from this test…white males, age 50 and older, who suffer with heartburn. They’re at highest risk for esophageal cancer.

Right now testing is only at Case Western Reserve in Ohio.

However, in March more hospitals around the country will offer the testing.

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