Esophageal Cancer Prevention
Esophageal cancer occurs when cancer cells develop in your esophagus, the long tube that passes food from your throat to your stomach. Esophageal cancer often begins in the cells that form the lining of your esophagus. If untreated, the cancer can spread to other parts of your body.Although the cancer can occur anywhere within your esophagus, it’s more common in the United States for it to appear in the lower portion, where the esophagus connects to the stomach. Also, more men get esophageal cancer than women.
There are two main types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Cancer that develops from squamous cells can appear along your entire esophagus. Adenocarcinoma cancer develops from gland cells that replace damaged squamous cells in your lower esophagus. Most likely, the damage was caused by exposure to too much stomach acid.
Why You May Need Esophageal Cancer Prevention
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly known as heartburn, can have serious repercussions if it is chronic and untreated. GERD can lead to a host of medical issues including difficulty swallowing, Barrett’s esophagus (sometimes a pre-cancerous condition), ulcers and esophageal cancer. Esophageal cancer is the seventh leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
If you suffer from frequent heartburn and have any of these other symptoms, come Dr. Khodadadian Upper East Side NYC gastroenterology office for an evaluation:
- Chest pain
- Hoarse voice
- Painful cough
- Unexplained weight loss
Catching the disease early increases your chances of surviving the cancer exponentially. Early-stage cancer is treatable, but in the early stages, the cancer often shows no symptoms. Esophageal cancer prevention can therefore save your life.
Esophageal Cancer Prevention Preparations
The first step to prevention is to determine the current condition of your esophagus. To accomplish this, Dr. Khodadadian has to visually examine your esophagus for damage. One way to do this is through an upper endoscopy, although an alternative is a small bowel capsule test. The advantage of an upper endoscopy test is that it gives Dr. Khodadadian the ability to collect a biopsy or tissue sample.
For the best results and the safest procedure, you should start with an empty stomach. Don’t eat or drink anything, including water, for 6–12 hours before your procedure. Dr. Khodadadian will tell you exactly when to start fasting, as the timing can vary. If he performs a small bowel capsule exam, he may ask you to do a bowel preparation or cleansing prior to your examination.
Tell Dr. Khodadadian about any medications you’re currently taking, particularly insulin, aspirin products or antiplatelet agents, anticoagulants (such as blood thinners like warfarin or heparin), arthritis medications, iron supplements or clopidogrel. Also discuss any medication allergies you may have, as well as any medical conditions, such as heart or lung disease.
You should continue to take your medications as usual unless the doctor specifically informs you not to. Some medications can interfere with your preparation or with the examination, so he may ask you to adjust your normal dosage before your procedure.
Esophageal Cancer Prevention Procedure
For an upper endoscopy procedure, Dr. Khodadadian may give you a sedative to help you relax. Alternatively, he’ll spray your throat with a local anesthetic. Then you’ll lie on your side.
Once you’re sedated or relaxed, Dr. Khodadadian passes the endoscope through your mouth, into your esophagus and to your stomach, if necessary. Since the endoscope doesn’t interfere with your breathing, you may feel only slight discomfort. Many patients, in fact, fall asleep during the procedure.
Dr. Khodadadian also can use upper endoscopy to collect a biopsy. He’ll send the sample to a laboratory to distinguish between benign (or non-cancerous) tissues and malignant (or cancerous) tissues.
Esophageal Cancer Prevention Results
If Dr. Khodadadian doesn’t find any malignant tissue in your esophagus, he can discuss with you the diet and lifestyle changes that will help prevent cancer from appearing. If he finds a condition like Barrett’s esophagus, he can take the necessary steps to ensure that cancer doesn’t develop.
If, however, he does find cancer, then he can get you to take the necessary steps to get it treated. If you are going through this procedure, there is a very good chance that the cancer will be in its early forms, and therefore curable.
Recovering from Esophageal Cancer Prevention
After the procedure, your recovery will be monitored while you wait for the medications to wear off. Your throat may feel a little sore, and the air introduced into your stomach during the procedure can cause you to feel slightly bloated. These are both minor and temporary conditions.
You can eat after the procedure unless the doctor tells you otherwise. He’ll explain what he found in your esophagus during the exam, although you likely will have to wait for the laboratory results of any biopsy.
If you’ve received sedatives, you must have a responsible friend or relative drive you home and stay with you for several hours. Even if you feel alert, your judgment and reflexes may be impaired for the rest of the day.
Esophageal Cancer Prevention Complications
Complications are rare, especially when a trained and experienced gastroenterologist like Dr. Khodadadian performs the procedure. A perforation or tear in your gastrointestinal tract lining that may require surgery is extremely rare and unlikely.
Other complications are minor. You can experience minor bleeding where a biopsy was taken. This bleeding may last for a few days, but it’s nothing to worry about. You may have a reaction to the sedatives or have complications if you have heart or lung disease.
You should contact Dr. Khodadadian immediately if you have a fever after the test, have trouble swallowing, experience increasing throat, chest or abdominal pain or if you notice any prolonged bleeding, including internal bleeding that reveals itself in black stools.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced physician like Dr. Khodadadian can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
As a best in class NYC gastroenterologist, Dr. Shawn Khodadadian provides highly personalized and comprehensive care. His philosophy regarding the doctor/patient relationship is based on trust and has earned him one of the most respected reputations in NYC.
For more information about esophageal cancer prevention or to schedule a consultation with the GI doctor, Dr. Shawn Khodadidan, please contact our NYC office.
Dr. Shawn Khodadadian
983 Park Ave, Ste 1D
New York, NY 10028