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Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers such as esophageal and stomach cancer are on the rise worldwide, with under-resourced populations being particularly affected. Early detection of GI changes that can lead to cancer requires endoscopy, a procedure that involves the insertion of a thin tube into the body to image the tissues, identify signs of disease, and deliver treatment. When endoscopy is either too expensive or simply unavailable in certain populations, otherwise preventable cancers can emerge.

In her work, gastroenterologist and director of the Baylor Global Innovation Center in Houston, TX, Dr. Sharmila Anandasabapathy, has two primary research interests: how to better prevent the development of GI cancers, and how to make early detection and treatment more accessible to underserved populations around the world. In order to address this very issue, Dr. Anandasabapathy and her team have developed an affordable, portable endoscopic tool capable of detecting precancerous cellular changes and acting as the medium through which treatments are delivered.

She discusses a range of important issues, including the following:

  • What contributes to the development of the two main types of esophageal cancer
  • What happens to the cells of the esophagus when repeatedly exposed to acid over a period of time
  • Risks associated with taking proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux on a long-term basis
  • How the use of innovative healthcare apps can improve awareness, education, and treatment of GI diseases worldwide
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