A GI doctor addresses the question of percentage of people younger than 65 years who develop esophageal cancer.

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Even though esophageal cancer is most prevalent in people over the age of 65, this does not mean that younger adults can’t develop this disease.

So for this article I consulted with Steven Fleisher, MD, chief of gastroenterology at the Center for Digestive Disease at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.

Dr. Fleisher explains, “The following is from a SEER database, and represents data collected between 2005 and 2009.”

The Data

Dr. Fleisher explains, “From 2005-2009, the median age at diagnosis for cancer of the esophagus was 68 years of age.

  •  Approximately 0.0% were diagnosed under age 20
  •  0.3% between 20 and 34
  •  2.3% between 35 and 44
  •  12.2% between 45 and 54
  •  26.1% between 55 and 64
  •  27.4% between 65 and 74
  •  23.7% between 75 and 84
  •  8.0% 85+ years of age.”

You may be wondering why the percentage drops as the age exceeds 74, since the older one gets, the weaker their body’s cancer surveillance system gets.

The drop in percentage reflects (not necessarily to the full degree) the fact that many people simply do not live beyond age 75 due to succumbing to America’s No. 1 killer: heart disease.

Other cancers, followed by stroke, also take out a significant number of people every year before their 75th birthday.

It is also believed by many researchers that if one’s genes (“super genes”) allow them to live past 85, they would not be as vulnerable to malignancies.

Acid Reflux and Esophageal Cancer

“The type of esophageal cancer associated with GERD is called adenocarcinoma,” says Dr. Fleisher. “This type of esophageal cancer has been rising in incidence in the United States over the last three decades, particularly in Caucasian men.

“Between 2000 and 2004 one U.S. cancer registry had the incidence of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus in white men at 5.69 per 100 000. GERD is a risk factor for adenocarcinoma, and a history of heartburn is found in up to 60% of those diagnosed with esophageal adenocarcinoma.”

Dr. Fleisherdr. fleisher was named a 2015-2018 “Top Doc” by Baltimore Magazine for gastroenterology.