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Avatar universal

Cancer? GERD? Barrett's?

Hi Folks,

For the last couple of years I have been on 40mg Omeprazole due to GERD.  My GERD now seems to be getting worse—(mainly the burning feeling in the back of the throat) and I have added an H2 to the mix and occasionally pop a Gaviscon or something along those lines.  Although my symptoms are more of an annoyance at this point, being a hypochondriac I am beginning to worry about Barrett’s or the Big C.  Before I run out and make an Upper GI doc and beg for an Endoscopy, can someone tell me what the actual odds of someone with diagnosed GERD getting cancer might be?  I sure do appreciate it.  I am 41 years old—quit smoking a few years ago.  Still an ardent Light Beer drinker though :)

7 Responses
1711789 tn?1361311607
Hi there!

Cell transformation such as barretts or cancer usually take a long time to develop and is unlikely possibility within 2 years of development of GERD. However since there is an aggravation in the symptoms, consultation with a gastroenterologist may be sought to rule out complications such as ulcers etc. and for suggestion of an appropriate management plan.
Hope this is helpful.

Take care!
Avatar universal
I agree that two years is normally not enough time to develop Barretts or cancer; however, I can tell you from painful personal experience that this is nothing to be taken lightly.  After many years of GERD and Prilosec (prescribed by my gastro doc) for about 15 years, I was diagnosed in December at age 67 with esophageal cancer stage 3.   For the past several years, I had had no significant symptoms of reflux, only minor heartburn two or three times a month at most.  About a year before my diagnosis, I went off the Prilosec with the approval of my primary care doctor due to lack of symptoms and increasing concerns at that time about long-term use of PPIs.  There was no increase in symptoms after I stopped the Prilosec.  My oncologist says I had not been off the Prilosec long enough for that to have caused the cancer, but I am not sure that is true, at least as a contributing factor.  I do not think the amount of time I was off the Prilosec was sufficient in and of itself to cause the cancer. However, I do think that something was going on even while I was taking the Prilosec and that the Prilosec masked the symptoms (if there would have been any).  I suspect I would have gotten cancer eventually whether I stayed on the Prilosec or not, perhaps just not as soon, but, of course, there is no way to ever know.

All these years, I have had annual physicals and told the doc I was taking Prilosec with only minor symptoms.  The doctor nor I ever discussed follow-up endoscopies.  I now believe anyone suffering from long-term GERD who was placed on PPIs or someone to placed themselves on PPIs due to chronic heartburn should INSIST on monitoring endoscopies at least every five years even if they are having NO active symptoms.  I do believe my experience shows that reflux action can be taking place while on PPIs even if there are no symptoms,  Also, do not self-diagnose or stop medication prescribed by a doctor based on what you might read on the internet or other places without the approval of the PRESCRIBING doctor.  From what I read now, PPIs are generally considered safe for indefinite use, but they should not be used "blindly," that is, without periodic endoscopies.  Only a very small percentage of people with GERD or Barretts go on to develop cancer, but do not let that statistic give anyone a false sense of security.  So. to anybody out there reading this who has a history of GERD and has not had an endoscopy within at least five years, GET ONE and develop a close relationship with your gastro doc.!  There is no better example that I can think of about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.

From January through March I was treated with HEAVY chemo and radiation (no surgery) and the last two CT scans have showed that the cancer is in remission, for which I am very thankful.  However, what little I have read about this particular cancer is that it is a very difficult cancer to cure unless caught very early, and that gives me little hope that the cancer will not recur.  

If anyone has questions about my experiences, I will be glad to try to answer them.
Avatar universal
Thanks Dave,

I appreciate the insight.  And hope to hell you pull through.  Glad you are in remission.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your good wishes.  Just don't put off getting yourself checked even if your symptoms improve.  That will at least establish a baseline for future comparison.  The endoscopy itself is no big deal and nothing to stress about.  I think in your case the results will give you peace of mind that nothing serious is going on, and perhaps enable you and the doc to develop a treatment plan going forward that will help ensure nothing bad happens in the future.  Let me know how it goes.
Avatar universal
I have experienced GERD but have followed the Sherry Brescia, diet which helps heal, you don't have to miss out on favourite foods but it's how you eat the acid and alkaline being the basic rule. She is worth a try  for anyone who has experienced a worrying cough, heartburn, indigestion, osteoporosis, the list is endless.  All I can say is it's has helped me.  
I also have a Desmoid Tumour which is the size of tennis ball in my mediasternal line a form of non malignant cancer.
Avatar universal
I've had gerd since 1994. I had an endoscopy done four years ago to confirm that my peptic ulcer was healed and it was.  I had some reflux type symptoms reoccurring (mild heartburn, quick lower esophagus ache/pinch feeling, upper stomach ache)  .  Spoke to my gastro doctor and he said that I should stay on my omeprazole for another month to see if I feel better.  I asked him would there be a chance that I have barrett's. He told me that the odds would be slim. Would you agree with that?  Feels like it might be a ulcer but the last time I had an ulcer I had different symptoms. I do worry about barrett's/cancer.
Avatar universal
Would 3.5 years be enough to form barretts/cancer cells?  That's the last time I had an endoscopy and it was clear.  My symptoms now are occasional aches under ribcage. An ache a few times to the left and right of my belly button.  Lumpy Throat feeling.  Hoping it's not barretts or cancer.  Maybe hpylori or ulcer?  Any thoughts.  My doc is giving me omeprazole 20mg twice a day.  
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