A cancer researcher at the University of Houston is set to deliver an unprecedented look at the 20-year development of esophageal cancer that starts with a precancerous lesion known as "Barrett's esophagus," a condition present in 3-million Americans.

It's an especially important find for esophageal cancer, which is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer with five-year survival rate in the teens.

"We really don't know how to manage it, so we need to get at it at these earlier stages to see if we can address it in a pre-emptive way," said McKeon.

Fortunately, only a small fraction of Barrett's patients progress to the more serious stages of dysplasia and then malignant esophageal cancer.

"The problem of Barrett's esophagus underscores a critical need to identify why some cases progress and others don't, as well as the need for drugs that eliminate this precursor lesion years before it ever thinks about progressing to serious disease," said McKeon.

Some of them, he says, just make bad decisions, resulting in their progression to dysplasia and then malignant cancer.

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