Esophageal Cancer Rates on the Rise in Men

New cases have increased by nearly 50% over last 30 years.

New cases have increased by nearly 50% over last 30 years.

Esophageal cancer rates have spiked over the last 3 decades in men, the results of a recent study found.

The rates among males grew by approximately 50% since the early 1980s, as new cases of the disease reached nearly 6000, according to Cancer Research UK.

The data showed that esophageal cancer cases in males rose from nearly 2700 cases 30 years ago to 5740 cases in 2012. Accounting for population size changes, this represents an increase from 15 to 23 cases per 100,000 people.

In women, the increase was a more modest 10% over the last 30 years, as 2802 women are currently diagnosed with the disease.

"These new statistics show a continuing rise in esophageal cancer rates -- especially in men. This is especially concerning as esophageal cancer can be notoriously hard to treat,” Cancer Research UK esophageal cancer expert Professor Rebecca Fitzgerald said in a press release. "The good news is we're making great strides in the early detection of the disease. We're developing a simple way to diagnose a group of people at high risk -- those with Barrett's esophagus -- by asking them to swallow a sponge to test for the disease. If we can pick up Barrett's esophagus in more people, it could mean we can stop the disease becoming cancer. Catching it early is absolutely critical to survival."

Furthermore, the data showed esophageal cancer is the sixth most common cause of cancer death in the UK, which resulted in the deaths of nearly 5200 men from the disease in 2012.

"It's worrying to see how rapidly the number of men getting esophageal cancer is rising,” health information manager at Cancer Research UK Claire Knight, MD, said in a press release. “But there are many things people can do to help cut their chances of getting the disease. We know that almost 90% of cases are preventable -- stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight will all help reduce your risk."