So scared of esophageal cancer.

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New Member

Date Joined Oct 2014
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 10/26/2014 6:51 AM (GMT -6)   
First of all, I am sorry for bringing my worries onto this forum. I know that is kind of what these forums are for, but still....I feel bad.

I'm 32 years old, I have suffered from GERD for about five years. I have taken various medications with little to no success. I am obese, I am 6'0" and weigh 319 pounds. I am a light smoker, have been for three years and I have tried quitting smoking on multiple occasions but because of my severe anxiety it's really difficult. I know that these are issues caused by my own poor decisions, but I wanted to tell the whole story.

My GERD fluctuates on severity, sometimes I have really bad attacks that a week, others I am okay for a short period of time. I always have the burping and the feeling and sound of acid sizzling in the back of my throat. As of late (last few months) I have been getting pain in my rib area on both sides of my body and this feeling of a bump in the back of my throat. The bump feeling goes away slightly whenever I burp. These symptoms can come on anytime, but typically come on after I eat. I get the tightness in my chest at times too, as well as aches in my shoulders, arms, neck and the back of my head. I know that there are people who have worse cases of acid reflux, mine though it has annoying symptoms isn't really rehabilitating. But I haven't really been able to get the symptoms under control and now I am scared as heck.

I came across this article on Facebook, I thought it was about sleep apnea and since I have sleep apnea as well, I thought I would head it. Somehow it ended up being about esophageal cancer and GERD. So one thing led to another and I began searching on google for articles that could allow me to be at ease. But as I read different articles, I just got more worried and more worried. I haven't been able to get an endoscopy as of yet because I am really afraid of needles and my doctor insists that I get an IV and be put out for the procedure. Now I am worried that all this time over the past five years I may have developed esophageal cancer and not even known it. I thought at first that it was something that almost always happened in people over 50, but then I get to this page online with all these people talking about how their 31 year old husband and 24 year old husband and whatnot died from esophageal cancer. Now, I am just really, really scared.

I am five classes away from becoming the second person ever in my family to earn a bachelor's degree, I am finally going to be able to make a good life for my wife and I and now I feel like I am going to die before I ever get the chance. cry

I would appreciate any advice because i'm really driving myself mad. It scares me so much that I fall into so many of the risk pools for esophageal cancer. I plan to rectify these things, but I am so scared that I already have it and won't have a chance to.

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2014
Total Posts : 34
   Posted 10/26/2014 3:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I understand where you are coming from. I've had GERD and stomach issues for years. It was finally suggested that I get a colonoscopy and endoscopy. I thought I had let myself and health go for too long and was afraid I had colon cancer. Although, they did discover a large hiatal hernia, I'm so happy it wasn't cancer. I'm afraid of needles too. I won't even give blood because of it. When the doctor has to take blood, what helps me is looking the other way and talking to the tech to keep my mind off of it. I don't have a high tolerance for pain. To put yourself at ease you may want to consider the endoscopy. Stress can wreak havoc on your body. The IV only hurts for a small second or two and then you will be in the twilight zone and won't remember any of the procedure. Hope this helps and take care of yourself.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2012
Total Posts : 1178
   Posted 10/27/2014 4:48 AM (GMT -6)   

Firstly are you on any medication like a PPI? You say you smoke, and smoking is usually bad for GERD as you know, but people dont realise just how bad. Cigarette smoke is extremely acidic, if you are on PPIs, it will be 10-100x more acidic than your stomach to put it in context. So its worth trying to give it up.

You say you have anxiety issues, have you considered talking to a dr about it? There are a lot of drugs for it that are lower risk in terms of side effects than cigarettes. If you dont want drugs then I find relaxation exercises done a few times a day is incredibly helpful.

On the cancer, it is really really unlikely you have it, but you need to have the endoscopy to know for sure and put your mind at rest. Do you know why your doctor is insisting you have sedation? Is it because of your anxiety? I have had two endoscopies without sedation, and whilst having anxiety problems myself, and they went very smoothly (very unpleasant but it only lasts a few minutes). I would try pushing your doctor to have it without sedation, or just try and brave it through the needle.

I prefer no sedation personally, and even when I had to have sedation for my colonoscopy, it didn't work! They gave me a second whack of it during the procedure because I was wide awake and telling them to stop when the pain was getting unbearable. Even after the second dose I was groaning in pain, and I remember the whole thing.
GERD, Anxiety, Depression, Rolling Hiatus Hernia, Esophageal Hypersensitivity

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2013
Total Posts : 24
   Posted 10/27/2014 3:42 PM (GMT -6)   
It might be a good idea to go ahead with the doctors visits and procedures that you need so you can put your mind at ease. Do you have an appt schedule for the procedure? After I lost 90 lbs, the GERD reduced drastically. Have you looked into the foods you eat? Do you think that some of them could be causing the symptoms? Like maybe refined flour or sugar? Just a thought. Congratulations on the upcoming Bachelors degree.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 1604
   Posted 10/28/2014 7:34 AM (GMT -6)   
I had a horrible experience with my first gastroscopy and now get super anxious about it. For subsequent scopes I was done under GA and one of those was with gas - so no needles! It was slower than by injection but I went off to sleep just the same. Maybe you can ask about that option? You need to discuss it with an anaesthetist.


Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 1604
   Posted 10/28/2014 7:41 AM (GMT -6)   
PS I will bump up my research link on cancer. Adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus mostly occurs in males over the age of 60 and if you study the figures you will see that we are far more likely to die of heart disease. And if you're going to get cancer there are plenty more common types. I know it's hard to keep positive - my repeat endoscopy is due soon and I get worried about them finding something every time!

Cancer related to Barretts or reflux is different to other throat cancers that people may be at risk of due to alcohol or smoking - but those tend to follow a life time of heavy exposure.

If you can get through the tests you'll have a lot more peace of mind. You could also ask for barium swallow as there's no needles for that either.

GERD (3 years and counting)
Lifelong stuff: Food allergies/intolerance, eczema, asthma
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