According to new type of study it was observed that the valve helps patients with advanced esophagal cancer swallow without complications. The main symptom of esophagal cancer is difficulty in swallowing. Unfortunately, the cancer is often well advanced by the time this symptom becomes obvious. According to survival rates it is generally poor and quite often all that can be done is to make the patient as comfortable as possible.
Part of this involves inserting a tube to allow a normal diet to be taken. When the tumour lies at the junction between the esophagus and the stomach, food and drink can pass in the wrong direction, from the stomach to the esophagus - a process known as reflux. This is not just unpleasant, but could be fatal during sleep, when material may enter the lungs.
Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin have developed a new anti-reflux valve that prevents this from happening. In a trial of 42 consecutive patients, half received a conventional tube, the other a tube with the valve. In the first group, all but one experienced reflux, compared to only three in the group with the valve. Clearly the new device improves quality of life for patients with advanced esophagal cancer by enabling them to eat and drink without complications.