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Oesophageal cancer: taking heartburn seriously

(Vienna, 6th March 2014) Tumours of the oesophagus are among the cancers that have increased the most in number over recent years. The gravity of the condition, coupled with a range of new treatment options, make an interdisciplinary approach to treatment essential. Experts at the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) at the MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital have therefore sent out an invitation to an interdisciplinary symposium, being held on 7 March 2014, on the latest developments in the condition's diagnosis and treatment.

Tumours of the stomach and oesophagus (gastro-oesophageal carcinoma) have exhibited dramatic increases in the western world, with the number of reported cases rising by over 400 per cent. At the same time, experts are witnessing a paradigm shift in the treatment of the condition. Whereas previously it tended to be lower social classes that were mainly affected, nowadays the condition is impacting on patients from all social strata. Although a few decades ago primarily alcohol and nicotine abuse were regarded as the principal causes of the condition, the main culprits nowadays are poor nutrition and obesity.

700 Austrians affected each year
These factors can trigger heartburn which, if left untreated for years, can cause genetic changes in the mucosal tissues and thus allow the condition to develop. Gastro-oesophageal cancer has therefore evolved from being a condition that affects marginal groups to a lifestyle disease. On average, around 700 people in Austria develop this type of tumour each year.

Because gastro-oesophageal cancer can have a serious impact on life quality and expectation, but also because there has been a wide range of new developments in the field of diagnosis and treatment, experts from the Gastro-oesophageal Tumor Unit (CCC-GET) within the CCC are inviting professionals in the field to attend the Update on Gastro-Oesophageal Cancer Symposium, being held in the assembly hall on the campus of the Old Vienna General Hospital on 7 March 2014.

Sebastian Schoppmann, tumour surgeon at the University Department of Surgery at the MedUni Vienna, Member of the CCC and coordinator of the CCC-GET says: “The rise in the number of tumours of the oesophagus is dramatic, and the trend has still not peaked. At the same time, we have new treatment options at our disposal that are more effective, but also more complex than previous treatments. They too make multi-modal and interdisciplinary approaches essential. In our update, we’ll be providing interdisciplinary information on the latest discoveries in the treatment of patients affected by the condition.”

Interdisciplinary treatment improves prognosis
One of the most important goals of the CCC-GET is to ensure the bringing-together of professional expertise on the best way to care for patients. Says Schoppmann: “An interdisciplinary approach to treatment is indispensable nowadays. This necessitates a certain infrastructure, which is why we recommend that patients are treated in dedicated centres. One of the aims of the update is therefore also to further step up and improve dialogue between clinicians in specialist centres and primary care colleagues.”

Symposium: Update on Gastro-Oesophageal Cancer
7 March 2014
Aula am Campus, Old Vienna General Hospital (Altes AKH)
Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Vienna
Courtyard 1, Number 1.11