Irritation along the esophagus is the main risk factor for cancer, and it can occur as a result of smoking, gastroesophageal reflux disease, chronic heartburn, as well as exposure to toxic chemicals such as PFAS and toluene via inhalation. Roughly 20,640 new esophageal cancer cases are diagnosed in the United States every year, and men are significantly more likely to develop it than women. The lifetime risk of esophageal cancer is 1 in 125 in men and 1 in 417 in women. Some of the warning signs of esophageal cancer are:
- persistent chest pain
- difficulty swallowing
- a lingering cough
- unexplained weight loss
- frequent vomiting
Esophageal cancer has a grim prognosis, with a median 5-year survival rate of only 20%. For this reason, if you experience any of the above symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 for at least one consecutive month and came to struggle with esophageal cancer, we encourage you to contact our attorneys, as you might be entitled to financial compensation and VA benefits. During that period, the military base was contaminated with PFAS, toluene, and many other dangerous chemicals. Our attorneys will file a Camp Lejeune toxic water claim or lawsuit for you.
The association between esophageal cancer and toxic exposure
A 2022 study from Environmental Health Insights assessed the risk for 24 different cancers in residents of Merrimack, New Hampshire, who had been severely exposed to PFAS between 2005 and 2014. They found a higher risk of esophageal cancer, as well as other malignant diseases, in these individuals than the national average. These residents experienced a considerably higher risk of at least four types of cancer over 10 years. Merrimack is a community with documented PFAS contamination.
When it comes to toluene, a study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine reviewed 99 esophageal cancer cases, 63 of which were squamous cell carcinomas. The control group was comprised of 533 healthy individuals and 533 patients with other types of cancer. Researchers analyzed the role of 35 toxic agents in the development of esophageal cancer, such as:
- carbon black
- sulphuric acid
- chrysotile asbestos
- steel dust
- mineral spirits
They found that exposure to sulphuric acid and carbon black had the strongest association with esophageal cancer, while toluene exposure was revealed to imply excess risks for esophageal cancer, too, although evidence was rather equivocal. Consequently, there is a link between this solvent and esophageal cancer, and the risk increases with the duration and frequency of exposure.