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More than Heartburn?

Jan 08, 2013 10:11AM ● Published by tina

If you suffer from chronic heartburn, consider an endoscopic examination to check for Barrett's esophagus

By Dr. Robert Sewell, 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 were classified as squamous cell carcinoma. These tumors typically occur in the upper part of the esophagus and are more common in African American men, pipe or cigar smokers, alcoholics, and in people who have suffered either a thermal or chemical injury of the esophagus. At the time of my report, the remaining 5% of cancers consisted of what are called adenocarcinoma. These occur in the lower part of the esophagus, down near the stomach, and are commonly associated with chronic acid reflux also known as “Heartburn”. 

Over the last 40 years things have changed significantly. The incidence of adenocarcinoma 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 unlike squamous cell cancers, these tumors are more common in Caucasian men who have chronic symptoms of acid reflux. Repeated acid injury is well known to be associated with the development of a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, where the esophageal lining changes into tissue that looks more like the lining of the stomach. These abnormal areas of mucosa are at further 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 this type of cancer. 

The presence of Barrett’s changes 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 names: upper GI endoscopy, esophagogastroduodenoscopy, EGD, or sometimes just a scope. There are some promising new endoscopic treatments available to treat Barrett’s, but in general the primary way to manage the problem is to aggressively control 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 between the stomach and esophagus.

Unfortunately, esophageal cancer has few if any early symptoms, but as it progresses patients typically complain of increasing difficulty swallowing. These malignancies are extremely difficult to treat successfully unless they are diagnosed very early, long before there are any symptoms. The most effective treatment is often the surgical removal of the esophagus, an extremely challenging and potentially disabling procedure. Radiation and chemotherapy can also be used to treat patients.

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, consider an endoscopic examination to check for Barrett’s esophagus. 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.

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. If you have any questions about Barrett’s or esophageal cancer consult your doctor.

Robert Sewell, MD, FACS is a Board Certified and MASTER® Laparascopic Surgeon.  He has resided in and provided surgical care to the North Texas Community for more than 30 years.

Health+Beauty, In Print Esophageal Cancer family health dr robert sewell
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    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/20/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/20/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/20/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/20/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/20/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/20/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Holiday Cookies Galore Camp (Ages 4-8)

    12/21/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Come enjoy everyone’s favorite sweet holiday escape in this tasty camp where we’ll put your culin...


  • Holiday Cookies Galore Camp (Ages 9-Teen)

    12/21/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Come enjoy everyone’s favorite sweet holiday escape in this tasty camp where we’ll put your culin...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/21/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/21/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/21/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/21/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/21/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/21/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/21/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Holiday Cookies Galore Camp (Ages 4-8)

    12/22/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Come enjoy everyone’s favorite sweet holiday escape in this tasty camp where we’ll put your culin...


  • Holiday Cookies Galore Camp (Ages 9-Teen)

    12/22/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Come enjoy everyone’s favorite sweet holiday escape in this tasty camp where we’ll put your culin...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/22/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/22/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/22/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Kid's Night Out

    12/22/2017
    05:00PM — 09:00PM

    Parents can enjoy last minute Christmas shopping while the kids have a blast swimming, eating piz...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/22/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/22/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Fireside Holidays at Four Seasons

    12/22/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Don't get your tinsel in a tangle this holiday season trying to figure out fun things to do with ...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/22/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • PARTY ON!

    12/22/2017
    07:00PM — 10:30PM

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


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/22/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Breakfast with Santa at Four Seasons

    12/23/2017
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    The jolly ol' elf joins Four Seasons Dallas for breakfast and holiday crafts. Kids, bring your C...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/23/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/23/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/23/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/23/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/23/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/23/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/23/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/24/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/24/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/24/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/24/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/24/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/24/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/24/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/25/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/25/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/25/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/25/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/25/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/25/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/25/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Dine For Dragons: December 26

    12/26/2017
    07:00AM — 12:00AM

    Eat in. Take out. Help fuel Carroll Education Foundation with every meal on December 26. Restaura...


  • Winter Mystery Basket Camp (Ages 4-8)

    12/26/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Calling all chefs! Cooking shows have nothing on Taste Buds Kitchen's tasty cooking extravaganzas...


  • Winter Mystery Basket Camp (Ages 9-Teen)

    12/26/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Calling all chefs! Cooking shows have nothing on Taste Buds Kitchen's tasty cooking extravaganzas...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/26/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/26/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/26/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/26/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/26/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/26/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Interlochen Lights 2017

    12/26/2017
    07:00PM — 11:00PM

    "Texas Best" Christmas Lights (as voted by the viewers of the Texas Country Reporter TV Show) are...


  • Winter Mystery Basket Camp (Ages 4-8)

    12/27/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Calling all chefs! Cooking shows have nothing on Taste Buds Kitchen's tasty cooking extravaganzas...


  • Winter Mystery Basket Camp (Ages 9-Teen)

    12/27/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Calling all chefs! Cooking shows have nothing on Taste Buds Kitchen's tasty cooking extravaganzas...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/27/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/27/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/27/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/27/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/27/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/27/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Winter Mystery Basket Camp (Ages 4-8)

    12/28/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Calling all chefs! Cooking shows have nothing on Taste Buds Kitchen's tasty cooking extravaganzas...


  • Winter Mystery Basket Camp (Ages 9-Teen)

    12/28/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Calling all chefs! Cooking shows have nothing on Taste Buds Kitchen's tasty cooking extravaganzas...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/28/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/28/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/28/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/28/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/28/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/28/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Winter Mystery Basket Camp (Ages 4-8)

    12/29/2017
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    Calling all chefs! Cooking shows have nothing on Taste Buds Kitchen's tasty cooking extravaganzas...


  • Winter Mystery Basket Camp (Ages 9-Teen)

    12/29/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    Calling all chefs! Cooking shows have nothing on Taste Buds Kitchen's tasty cooking extravaganzas...


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/29/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/29/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/29/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/29/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/29/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/29/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • PARTY ON!

    12/29/2017
    07:00PM — 10:30PM

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


  • Traditional Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/30/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Bring the kids and drop in for one of Vetro’s Traditional Ornament Help-Create events, *select da...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/30/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/30/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/30/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/30/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Gift of Lights 2017

    12/30/2017
    06:00PM

    The Gift of Lights is a Texas-sized Drive Thru light park hosted at Texas Motor Speedway with a p...


  • Extreme Ornament Help-Create Events

    12/31/2017
    02:00PM — 06:00PM

    Unleash your inner elf during Vetro’s Extreme Ornament Help-Create events, *select dates and time...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    12/31/2017
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Ring in New Years Eve at Truluck's

    12/31/2017
    05:00PM — 12:00AM

    This New Year's Eve (December 31), Truluck's has two options for diners to ring in the New Year: ...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    12/31/2017
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    12/31/2017
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    01/01/2018
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market

    01/01/2018
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    The Lone Star State is about to get a lot brighter as Enchant, The World's Largest Christmas Ligh...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    01/01/2018
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    01/02/2018
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    01/02/2018
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    01/03/2018
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    01/03/2018
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    01/04/2018
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    01/04/2018
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    01/05/2018
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    01/05/2018
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    01/06/2018
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    01/06/2018
    05:00PM — 11:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    01/07/2018
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    01/07/2018
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


  • Holiday in the Park 2017

    01/08/2018
    02:00PM — 10:00PM

    Holiday in the Park is back for select days from November 17-January 7 at Six Flags Over Texas. I...


  • 2017 Magical Winter Lights

    01/08/2018
    05:00PM — 10:00PM

    Magical Winter Lights is a spectacular, larger-than-life festival that presents a fresh multicult...


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