Skip to main content

Is it Really Just a Little Heartburn?

Mar 08, 2012 08:55AM, Published by Mike, Categories: Health+Beauty, Today




What you should know about the rising risk of Esophageal Cancer
Robert Sewell, MD. FACS

In 1977, as a young surgical resident, I was given an assignment to deliver a formal presentation to our entire faculty and all my fellow residents. My topic was cancer of the esophagus, which at that time was a relatively uncommon malignancy. In the course of my review of the literature, I discovered that for the decades prior to the 1970’s about 95% of all esophageal cancers occurred in the upper part of the esophagus and were more common in African American men, pipe or cigar smokers, alcoholics, and in people who had suffered either a thermal or chemical injury of the esophagus. At the time of my report only about 5% of cancers were associated with chronic acid reflux, which occur in the lower part of the esophagus, down near the stomach.

Over the last 30 years things have changed significantly. The incidence of adenocarcinoma of the lower esophagus has been rising steadily, to the point where today this type of cancer now accounts for the majority of esophageal malignancies. A number of theories have been suggested as to why this dramatic change has occurred, but there is no proof as to the actual cause. We know that this type of esophageal cancer is more common in caucasian men who have chronic symptoms of acid reflux. Repeated acid injury is associated with the development of a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, where the tissues that line the lower esophagus undergo a change, looking more like the lining of the stomach. These areas are at risk for undergoing additional changes that can culminate in adenocarcinoma. Although the incidence of Barrett’s esophagus is still relatively low in the population in general, it has been steadily rising and along with it the risk of esophageal cancer. In fact, in the United States the incidence of esophageal cancer is rising faster than any other malignancy.

The presence of Barrett’s can only be determined by inspecting the inside of the esophagus with an endoscope. This procedure is commonly referred to by one of several different name: upper GI endoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, EGD, or sometimes just a scope. During the procedure biopsies can be taken of any suspicious appearing tissues, and if Barrett’s is confirmed appropriate treatment is recommended. There are some promising new treatments available for Barrett’s, but in general the primary way it is managed is by aggressively controlling the reflux of acid from the stomach up into the esophagus. This can be accomplished either with daily medications that suppress stomach acid production, or by performing a surgical procedure to improve the function of the failed anti-reflux barrier.

Unfortunately, esophageal cancer has few if any early symptoms, but as it progresses it usually causes an increasing difficulty with swallowing. These malignancies are extremely difficult to treat successfully unless they are diagnosed very early, long before there are any symptoms. Treatment may include the surgical removal of the esophagus, which is an extremely challenging and potentially disabling procedure. Radiation and chemotherapy can also be used to treat patients with esophageal cancers, but once again, a successful outcome depends largely on making an early diagnosis.

So what’s the bottom-line? If you suffer from chronic heartburn, even if its reasonably well controlled with either prescription medications or over the counter drugs, you should, at some point, have an endoscopic examination to check for Barrett’s changes. This is especially true if you are a caucasian man over the age of 50, but actually anyone who has chronic reflux is at risk.

There is an exciting new screening test for Barrett’s esophagus called Transnasal esophagoscopy or TNE. This procedure provides a direct inspection of the esophagus and stomach and can be performed in the doctor’s office without the need for sedation or general anesthesia. It only takes about 30 minutes and can provide patients who are at risk for Barrett’s the peace of mind of knowing the actual health of their esophagus.

Esophageal cancer is largely preventable, and controlling your acid reflux is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself. As you’ve heard on countless television ads for the various acid reflux medications, it could be something more than just a little heartburn. So if you have any questions about Barrett’s or esophageal cancer consult with your doctor or check out our website at www.myheartburnisgone.com.

For more than 30 years, Dr. Sewell has resided in and provided surgical care to the North Texas community. For 20 of those years he has been devoted primarily to the practice of Minimally Invasive Surgery, introducing Laparoscopic Surgery to the region in 1990 and Incisionless Surgery for reflux in 2009.




  • We are raising food for our local shelters and are offering a FREE blow out for every bag of Cat ...


  • Tasty Tales

    03/27/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    It's time to cook with our favorite books! Join us as we have fun learning a new recipe each week...


  • Tasty Tales

    03/27/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    It's time to cook with our favorite books! Join us as we have fun learning a new recipe each week...


  • Soup's On!

    03/27/2017
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    In this FREE cooking class from Healthy Living with Pam, you'll learn to make three healthy, deli...


  • Kinky Boots

    03/28/2017
    12:00AM

    Don’t miss your chance to see one of Broadway’s most exhilarating musicals, “Kinky Boots.” Winner...


  • Dine For Dragons: March 28

    03/28/2017
    07:00AM — 12:00AM

    Eat in. Take out. Help fuel Carroll Education Foundation with every meal on March 28. Restaurants...


  • We are raising food for our local shelters and are offering a FREE blow out for every bag of Cat ...


  • Latin Dance with Loui

    03/28/2017
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    2 free series starting Feb. 28 "Latin Dance with Loui" lets adult participants sample a variet...


  • Spring Season Starts

    03/31/2017
    10:00AM

    Soccer Shots is an engaging children's soccer program with a focus on character development. Our ...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    03/31/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • Downward Doll Yoga

    03/31/2017
    03:30PM — 04:30PM

    Bring your favorite doll for a one-of-a-kind yoga experience that will delight the imagination. ...


  • PARTY ON!

    03/31/2017
    07:00PM — 10:30PM

    Join us each Friday night for our weekly ballroom dance party! A great mix of ballroom, latin, c...


  • Zoo Run

    04/01/2017
    08:00AM — 12:00PM

    It’s time for the 20th annual Zoo Run at the Fort Worth Zoo! Support the zoo’s local and internat...


  • Southlake Superhero 5K & Fun Run

    04/01/2017
    08:30AM — 10:30AM

    The City of Southlake is hosting a 5k & Fun Run at Bicentennial Park. The 5k will be chip timed. ...


  • Walk of Hope Dallas, benefiting Resolve

    04/01/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Fertility Specialists of Texas (FST) is opening its first, free-standing office in Southlake this...


  • Spring Season Starts

    04/01/2017
    09:30AM

    Soccer Shots is an engaging children's soccer program with a focus on character development. Our ...


  • Spring Health Festival

    04/01/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Title Sponsor - Methodist Mansfield Medical Center FREE activities for all! Health Screenings...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    04/01/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • This is an hour and a half class that covers the basics of sugar (cutout) cookie decorating. Each...


  • Spotlight on Millipedes!

    04/01/2017
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Do millipedes really have a thousand legs? You can count for yourself at our next Spotlight! Lear...


  • Texas on Tap

    04/01/2017
    05:30PM — 10:00PM

    Join us for a special LAW birthday celebration! We are turning one! Enjoy a special 3-course menu...


  • BOYS ONLY NITE Glow Warriors

    04/01/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Glow yoga, an obstacle course and a night built around making boys feel like warriors - peace war...


  • We are raising food for our local shelters and are offering a FREE blow out for every bag of Cat ...


  • Tasty Tales

    03/27/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    It's time to cook with our favorite books! Join us as we have fun learning a new recipe each week...


  • Tasty Tales

    03/27/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    It's time to cook with our favorite books! Join us as we have fun learning a new recipe each week...


  • Soup's On!

    03/27/2017
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    In this FREE cooking class from Healthy Living with Pam, you'll learn to make three healthy, deli...


  • Kinky Boots

    03/28/2017
    12:00AM

    Don’t miss your chance to see one of Broadway’s most exhilarating musicals, “Kinky Boots.” Winner...


  • Dine For Dragons: March 28

    03/28/2017
    07:00AM — 12:00AM

    Eat in. Take out. Help fuel Carroll Education Foundation with every meal on March 28. Restaurants...


  • We are raising food for our local shelters and are offering a FREE blow out for every bag of Cat ...


  • Latin Dance with Loui

    03/28/2017
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    2 free series starting Feb. 28 "Latin Dance with Loui" lets adult participants sample a variet...


  • We are raising food for our local shelters and are offering a FREE blow out for every bag of Cat ...


  • We are raising food for our local shelters and are offering a FREE blow out for every bag of Cat ...


  • 2017 Vision Board Workshop

    03/30/2017
    09:30AM — 11:00AM

    Are your dreams and goals still resonating for 2017? Join Danielle Vaughn for a workshop designed...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    03/30/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • Reads! Program: A Taste of India

    03/30/2017
    05:30PM — 08:30PM

    Join Chef Adair Smith of Savvy’s Bistro & Mansfield ISD for a culinary tour of India. Participant...


  • Spring Season Starts

    03/31/2017
    10:00AM

    Soccer Shots is an engaging children's soccer program with a focus on character development. Our ...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    03/31/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • Downward Doll Yoga

    03/31/2017
    03:30PM — 04:30PM

    Bring your favorite doll for a one-of-a-kind yoga experience that will delight the imagination. ...


  • PARTY ON!

    03/31/2017
    07:00PM — 10:30PM

    Join us each Friday night for our weekly ballroom dance party! A great mix of ballroom, latin, c...


  • Zoo Run

    04/01/2017
    08:00AM — 12:00PM

    It’s time for the 20th annual Zoo Run at the Fort Worth Zoo! Support the zoo’s local and internat...


  • Southlake Superhero 5K & Fun Run

    04/01/2017
    08:30AM — 10:30AM

    The City of Southlake is hosting a 5k & Fun Run at Bicentennial Park. The 5k will be chip timed. ...


  • Walk of Hope Dallas, benefiting Resolve

    04/01/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Fertility Specialists of Texas (FST) is opening its first, free-standing office in Southlake this...


  • Spring Season Starts

    04/01/2017
    09:30AM

    Soccer Shots is an engaging children's soccer program with a focus on character development. Our ...


  • Spring Health Festival

    04/01/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    Title Sponsor - Methodist Mansfield Medical Center FREE activities for all! Health Screenings...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    04/01/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • This is an hour and a half class that covers the basics of sugar (cutout) cookie decorating. Each...


  • Spotlight on Millipedes!

    04/01/2017
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Do millipedes really have a thousand legs? You can count for yourself at our next Spotlight! Lear...


  • Texas on Tap

    04/01/2017
    05:30PM — 10:00PM

    Join us for a special LAW birthday celebration! We are turning one! Enjoy a special 3-course menu...


  • BOYS ONLY NITE Glow Warriors

    04/01/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Glow yoga, an obstacle course and a night built around making boys feel like warriors - peace war...


  • Big D Marathon

    04/02/2017
    07:00AM — 12:00PM

    Spring has arrived and it’s the perfect time to enjoy running one of the most scenic courses in A...


  • Ladies: Don your best hats and don’t be late for a very important date. The Southlake Newcomers C...


  • April 2, 2017 1-4 PM Southlake Newcomers is proud to present a fun afternoon Alice in Wonderla...


  • TOMÁS AND THE LIBRARY LADY

    04/02/2017
    01:30PM

    An inspiring true tale of how reading and stories help us all escape. This beautiful bilingual pl...


  • Spring Season Starts

    04/02/2017
    03:30PM

    Soccer Shots is an engaging children's soccer program with a focus on character development. Our ...


  • TOMÁS AND THE LIBRARY LADY

    04/02/2017
    04:30PM

    An inspiring true tale of how reading and stories help us all escape. This beautiful bilingual pl...


  • Colors for Caring Day

    04/03/2017
    08:00AM

    On the first Monday of each month in the 2016-17 school year, Mansfield ISD is encouraging the co...


  • Tasty Tales

    04/03/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    It's time to cook with our favorite books! Join us as we have fun learning a new recipe each week...


  • Tasty Tales

    04/03/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    It's time to cook with our favorite books! Join us as we have fun learning a new recipe each week...


  • Rangers Baseball Returns

    04/03/2017
    06:00PM

    There’s nothing like the boys of summer to excite and thrill fans in the Metroplex! The Texas Ran...


  • The 2017 date for Grand Prairie's annual Easter Egg-stravaganza Egg Hunt will be announced soon. ...


  • Mansfield ISD MultiCultural Festival

    04/04/2017
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    Did you know Mansfield ISD has more than 33,000 students, and there are more than 110 languages s...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    04/04/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • Latin Dance with Loui

    04/04/2017
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    2 free series starting Feb. 28 "Latin Dance with Loui" lets adult participants sample a variet...


  • Dragons, Drama & Dice

    04/04/2017
    06:30PM

    There’s a great way to meet new people, win prizes, and help Carroll Theatre! On April 4, 2017 C...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    04/05/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • Passenger

    04/05/2017
    07:00PM — 12:00AM

    Don’t miss British singer-songwriter, Mike Rosenberg, better known as Passenger, when he stops by...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    04/06/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • The Marcus High School Marquettes will perform “Game Night with the Marquettes” for their 2017 sp...


  • Vintage Market Days Denton

    04/07/2017
    12:00AM

    Are you looking for original art, antiques, jewelry and more, all in one exciting venue? Multiple...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    04/07/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • We're pleased to announce a Mansfield Reads! program, Movie Night at the Farr Best Theater, in pa...


  • The Marcus High School Marquettes will perform “Game Night with the Marquettes” for their 2017 sp...


  • PARTY ON!

    04/07/2017
    07:00PM — 10:30PM

    Join us each Friday night for our weekly ballroom dance party! A great mix of ballroom, latin, c...


  • Carroll Indoor Percussion Community Show

    04/07/2017
    07:20PM — 08:00PM

    Carroll Indoor Percussion will be hosting a community show to bring awareness to communities in n...


  • Vintage Market Days Denton

    04/08/2017
    12:00AM

    Are you looking for original art, antiques, jewelry and more, all in one exciting venue? Multiple...


  • Run4Elise

    04/08/2017
    07:00AM — 12:00PM

    A 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run benefiting Swim4Elise.


  • Bunny Brunch

    04/08/2017
    09:00AM

    Spring has sprung in Mansfield, and with it comes the return of the Mansfield Activities Center’s...


  • “America the Beautiful” - Linda Smith

    04/08/2017
    11:00AM — 06:00PM

    You are invited FEATURED ARTIST’S SHOW and RECEPTION Giddens Gallery of Fine Art in Grapevine ...


  • Love is in the Air!

    04/08/2017
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Once Spring starts, so does mating season for bees, wasps, ants, and termites. Learn about swarms...


  • The Great Gala

    04/08/2017
    07:30PM — 10:30PM

    The Grapevine Colleyville Southlake Moms League is a local non-profit organization that is dedica...


  • Spring Music Series featuring Ronda Ray

    04/08/2017
    08:00PM — 11:00PM

    Grab a cold brew and enjoy Ronda Ray live on our patio!


  • Vintage Market Days Denton

    04/09/2017
    12:00AM

    Are you looking for original art, antiques, jewelry and more, all in one exciting venue? Multiple...


  • O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

    04/09/2017
    11:00AM

    Nothing gets us revved up like a spring day at the racetrack! The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 is the ...


  • Bastille

    04/09/2017
    06:00PM

    British band Bastille arrives in the Metroplex April 9 for a show that’s sure to please. In the p...


  • Ariana Grande

    04/09/2017
    06:00PM — 12:00AM

    The tiny powerhouse with an enormous voice returns to the American Airlines Center for another sh...


  • Tasty Tales

    04/10/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    It's time to cook with our favorite books! Join us as we have fun learning a new recipe each week...


  • Tasty Tales

    04/10/2017
    09:30AM — 10:30AM

    It's time to cook with our favorite books! Join us as we have fun learning a new recipe each week...


Read This Month's Digital Issue