Is It Heartburn or Cancer?

Almost everyone experiences digestive troubles from time to time that include upset stomachs, heartburn or acid reflux. Heck, have too many buffalo wings and you might think your gut is going to explode.

Sometimes, knocking down an antacid or two will do the trick. Other times, things can be far more serious.

Those who have these issues on a regular basis may be more likely to develop cancer in the upper gastrointestinal tract (GI) organs: the esophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

“People who have chronic reflux or indigestion need to consult their physician and be closely monitored because these conditions can predispose you to cancer,” said John T. Preskitt, M.D., a surgical oncologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

“If someone has reflux regularly for an extended period of time, they need to see a doctor to discuss testing. Tests can determine if there is a problem or even a premalignant condition that will simply require yearly follow-up testing to monitor.”

Upper GI cancer symptoms and diagnosis in addition to chronic heartburn or indigestion, other symptoms of upper GI cancers may include difficulty in swallowing or digesting food, a history of bleeding from the stomach or upper abdominal pain.

If you have had any of these symptoms or have had chronic acid reflux for three months, your physician may refer you for an upper GI endoscopy.

During an endoscopic procedure, a flexible fiber optic scope is passed through the patient’s mouth and the esophagus, to the stomach and upper duodenum. These areas can then be visually examined for abnormalities and growths. A biopsy can also be taken through the endoscope if any suspicious areas are seen.

So, if you’ve set down the spicy food and you’re still have some issues, it may be time to get it checked out.

About the author

Ashley Howland
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Ashley works in digital communications and social media. She enjoys covering health care news and is interested in health care social media.

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Is It Heartburn or Cancer?