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Crookston Eagles, RiverView Foundation Team up to Battle Cancer

Community news | Thursday, May 1, 2014

The RiverView Health Foundation recently received a grant from the Crookston Eagles Grand Aerie #873 to invest in equipment for treatment of Barrett's disease.

The state-of-the-art equipment treats pre-cancer conditions in the esophagus, a condition that affects one to two million adults in the United States each year.

Barrett's disease occurs when the esophagus is chronically exposed to gastric contents of the stomach caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD. With prolonged acid exposure, normal cells in the esophagus can undergo a genetic change and are then vulnerable to further changes that can lead to cancer.

For a person with Barrett's disease, the risk of developing esophageal cancer is similar to the risk of developing colon cancer for patients who have a colon polyp. However, unlike a colon polyp which is removed immediately upon diagnosis through a colonoscopy, prior to the availability of this new equipment, the standard treatment for Barrett's disease was "watchful waiting" or surveillance to monitor the progression of the disease.

RiverView Health Gastroenterologist Dr. Mirza Baig effectively treats pre-cancerous tissue in the lining of the esophagus with ablation technology. The main purpose of the ablation procedure is to remove the abnormal lining of the esophageal. The tissue then regenerates and normal tissue grows back. This eliminates or markedly reduces the chances of cancer developing. Data from studies shows that the treatment is highly effective.

Esophageal cancer has a five-year patient survival rate of just 16 percent. Individuals with Barrett's esophagus have 40 to 130 times higher incidence of developing esophageal cancer than those without the condition. Esophageal is presently the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States.

Eagles Participation

In partnership with the Fraternal Order of the Eagles Grand Aerie #873, RiverView Health works to educate the public on the importance of treating GERDS, and understanding the symptoms of Barrett’s disease, stated RiverView Foundation Director Kent Bruun.

"Having first class health care in Crookston is very important for the whole community, and the Crookston Eagles Club wants to assist Riverview Health in continuing to provide exceptional care right here in Crookston,’" said Jake Fee, manager of the Crookston Eagles Club. "We are 'People helping People' and this contribution will assist with the community's medical need."

The ability to have pre-cancerous cancer screenings and ablation services available locally is a significant cost savings for patients, resulting in extended time and quality of life for patients and their families, Bruun stated. In terms of human suffering, what cancer does to the individual and family is truly immeasurable.

Battling Esophageal Cancer

Lanette Satrom, Gardner, ND, and her family know firsthand what esophageal cancer can do. She spoke about her mother, Lorraine Bruun's, history with cancer during Philanthropy Day last November.

Lorraine Bruun, Bemidji, passed away from cancer five years ago. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. Fortunately, she was religious about getting her annual mammogram, according to Satrom, and the cancer was caught in the early stages. Unfortunately, in 2007 Lorraine was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. Satrom remembers that her esophagus would close up and she had difficulty swallowing her food. Initially she had her esophagus stretched, but she would go on to have a 6" section of her esophagus removed. The recovery from the surgery was difficult, reported Satrom, and Lorraine passed away Sept. 3, 2008.

Satrom stated that it is too bad the Barrett's equipment and treatment was not available sooner, as it may have made a difference in her mother's case. Satrom does not recall her mother taking prescription medication for her chronic heartburn, but she does remember that she took Tums antacid pills for as long as she can remember.

"In my opinion if my mother would have been proactive with her Barrett's acid reflux like she was with her yearly mammogram exams, I think her outcome might have been better,’" she stated. "Early detection is always important. Make a commitment to get screened especially if you have a family history.

"Crookston is blessed to have a strong local healthcare system. You are fortunate to have the level of services available to you without having to travel.’"

For more information on this program or any other Foundation program, contact Kent Bruun at 218.281.9249 or