Fear of Cancer After A Sleeve Gastrectomy

The Truth About Reflux After The Sleeve Gastrectomy

In my humble opinion and observance of patients over a period of working in the field of bariatrics for 13 years; in the rush to seek a quick fix operation to experience rapid weight loss many people overlook the negative side effects of the procedures.

It is recognised that some of the main complications of the sleeve gastrectomy and the gastric bypass are leaks and internal hernias but since the rise of the sleeve gastrectomy procedure some studies are showing a post sleeve acid reflux rate of between 20-30%. The question and concern is, that this form of acid reflux can be the cause of oesophageal cancer. So could this mean that in the weight loss surgery world we are creating a whole generation of sleeve patients with a lifetime risk of cancer?

In a recent edition of the Bariatric News Dr Robert Rutledge who has pioneered the mini gastric bypass procedure explains that a primary cause of gastric cancer is commonly caused by the bacteria H. Pylori and that patients who were likely infected were at a higher long term risk of developing gastric cancer. He advised that if surgeons are worried about gastric cancer they should look for Heliobacter Pylori and treat it appropriately. In his opinion the sleeve is creating moderate to severe acid reflux with oesophagitis in a moderate to large percentage of patients. General surgeons know that this is a pre-cancerous and potential cause of oesophageal cancer.

At the moment the data is limited for the gastric sleeve but in 20 years’ time we could see acid reflux rates as high as 50% so the question is patients considering the gastric sleeve procedure should be concerned about long term oesophagitis which is an unequivocal precursor to cancer.