That burning sensation could put you at risk for esophageal cancer

Kim Zapor, RN, BSN, OCN, CBCN, is one of four oncology nurses with the U-M Cancer AnswerLine™

Kim Zapor, RN, BSN, OCN, CBCN, is one of four oncology nurses with the U-M Cancer AnswerLine™

Heartburn. It’s a symptom that many people experience on a regular basis. They may not realize that long-term heartburn can put them at risk for esophageal cancer. The esophagus is the long tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Over the long haul, reflux, which is a returning flow of heart burn-causing stomach acid back to the throat, can damage the lining of the esophagus, which can lead to cancer.

Dr. Mark Orringer, professor of thoracic surgery at the University of Michigan and a pioneer in esophageal surgery, has seen a change over the last three decades in the type of patient developing esophageal cancer. Once primarily found in individuals who drank alcohol and smoked excessively, it is now seen in greater numbers with those suffering from obesity, coupled with reflux.

Other risk factors include:

Life Interrupted Leads to Bonus Time

Have you experienced sudden weight loss, excessive heartburn, pain in the chest or back, or food getting stuck, not going down and coming back up? These are all symptoms of esophageal cancer. Having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer, but it might be time to have it checked out.

Which is what Jerry Poisson did after many years of acid reflux. He was initially diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition. Jerry started getting screened yearly, until cancer was found. Watch this video to find out more about Jerry’s story.

If you are experiencing symptoms of esophageal cancer and have questions please let us know in the comments or call us at 800-865-1125.

Home-based cancer treatments are a welcome option

Patient Michelle Johnson

Heading to the hospital or clinic for your cancer treatment takes time, costs money in gas and pulls you away from your regular life, sometimes for days at a time. What if you could receive inpatient-like hospital services in the comfort of your own home?

Home-based treatment options are a reality for many patients, including Michelle Johnson, who used U-M Home Care Services for post-surgery care, chemotherapy and radiation to treat esophageal cancer.

“If I had to sit for two or three days in the hospital’s infusion center every week, it would take an emotional toll on me. With my home chemo, it enables me to do things I want to do,” Johnson says.

Home Care nurses visit her several times a week to help with her PICC line, change dressings after surgery, and oversee and disconnect an infusion pack she wears for 46 hours straight every other week.

Worried you won’t be able to manage home-based treatments?

“One of the reasons home care runs so smoothly is that so many procedures have been standardized and coordinated between HomeMed and the U-M Cancer Center,” explains Nurse Manager Debra Kovacevich, R.N., from U-M HomeMed. “With such high standards of hospital care, it is easy to transfer standard processes to home care.”

Many resources are available to help patients, including:

  • Patient education materials
  • Home Care nurse visits
  • 24/7 number to call about infusing drugs in the home, as well as concerning signs and symptoms
  • A guide to home care services

Get a complete list of Home Care services and read more of Michelle’s story in Thrive.

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