Glen Larson Loses Cancer Battle

Although you may not be familiar with his name, you are certainly familiar with his work. Glen Larson, the  TV producer behind the hits Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider,  Magnum, P.I. and Quincy, M.E., has died at the age of 77. According to his son, James Larson, his father died at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center from “complications of esophageal cancer“.

Glen Larson was a three-time nominee for an Emmy, was nominated for a Grammy for the original score of Battlestar Galactica, and, in 1985, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

His shows brought major TV fame to celebrities such as Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man), Tom Selleck (Magnum P.I.) and David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider). Hasselhoff sent his condolescences to his family, adding:

 “(He) had 7 tv series at one time! Without him there’d be no KITT & Michael.”

What you need to know about esophageal cancer…

esophagus1The esophagus is the muscular tube, anatomically located behind your wind pipe or trachea, throw which food and drink passes between the mouth and the stomach. It’s actually your esophagus, and not your heart, when you experience “heart burn” which is caused by stomach acids leaking backward into your esophagus damaging its lining and causing pain.

The two most common forms of esophageal cancer are named for the type of cells that become malignant (cancerous):

Squamous cell carcinoma: Cancer that forms in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells lining the esophagus. This cancer is most often found in the upper and middle part of the esophagus, but can occur anywhere along the esophagus. This is sometimes called epidermoid carcinoma.

Adenocarcinoma: Cancer that begins in glandular (secretory) cells. Glandular cells in the lining of the esophagus produce and release fluids such as mucus. Adenocarcinomas usually form in the lower part of the esophagus, near the stomach.

Risk factors include the following:

  • Tobacco use.
  • Heavy alcohol use.
  • Barrett esophagus: A condition in which the cells lining the lower part of the esophagus have changed or been replaced with abnormal cells that could lead to cancer of the esophagus. Gastric reflux (the backing up of stomach contents into the lower section of the esophagus) may irritate the esophagus and, over time, cause Barrett esophagus.
  • Older age.
  • Being male. Men are 3 times more likely than women to get esophageal cancer.
  • Being African-American.

The most common signs of esophageal cancer are painful or difficult swallowing and weight loss. These and other symptoms may be caused by esophageal cancer or by other conditions. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • Painful or difficult swallowing.
  • Weight loss.
  • Pain behind the breastbone.
  • Hoarseness and cough.
  • Indigestion and heartburn

Is there a way to prevent esophageal cancer?

Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer.

To prevent new cancers from starting, scientists look at risk factors and protective factors. Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor; anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective factor.

Some risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. For example, both smoking and inheriting certain genes are risk factors for some types of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Regular exercise and a healthy diet may be protective factors for some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it does not mean that you will not get cancer.

The following risk factors may increase the risk of esophageal cancer:

Tobacco and alcohol use

Squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus is strongly linked with all types of tobacco and alcohol use. Stopping smoking can help lower the risk of this type of cancer.

Gastric reflux and Barrett esophagus

Barrett's-EsophagusAdenocarcinoma of the esophagus is strongly linked to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a condition in which the contents of the stomach back into the lower part of the esophagus. GERD may irritate the esophagus and, over time, cause Barrett esophagus. Barrett esophagus is a condition that affects the cells lining the lower part of the esophagus. These cells change or are replaced with abnormal cells, which can lead to adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.

It is not known if surgery or other medical treatment to stop gastric reflux lowers the risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. Clinical trials are being done to see if surgery or medical treatments can prevent Barrett esophagus.

The following protective factors may decrease the risk of esophageal cancer:

Avoiding tobacco and alcohol use

Many studies have shown that the risk of esophageal cancer is lower in people who do not use tobacco and alcohol.


A diet high in green and yellow fruits and vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower) may lower the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Some studies have shown that the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may lower the risk of esophageal cancer. NSAIDS include aspirin and other drugs that reduce swelling and pain. Use of NSAIDs, however, increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, bleeding in the stomach and intestines, and kidney damage.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is being studied in clinical trials for certain patients with Barrett esophagus. This procedure uses radio waves to heat and destroy abnormal cells, which may become cancer.


Source: National Cancer Institute

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real Time Analytics Google Analytics Alternative