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Monday, March 30, 2009

Another day, another scan

I have a confession. I forgot about an appointment for a CT scan on Monday. I just went about my business and realized it only when I had my first cell call of the day and noticed the notification.

So I go to Florida Hospital on Tuesday afternoon for the scan. No biggie. I've done these things every four months for nearly two years, and even more frequently prior to my surgery. By now I should glow in the dark.

The scan will allow my doctors to see if anything is growing inside of me. Well, let me rephrase that. The doctors will see if anything bad is growing inside. I don't think so; there's no blockage that I can tell.

So I feel pretty good going into this scan. I see Dr. Z in mid-April and I feel certain I'll have a relatively clean bill of health.

As I go through this scan, this Web site is about to be visited by its 18,000th viewer. With that milestone, I hope to remind everyone that esophageal cancer is among the fastest-growing cancers in the United States and around the world. Primarily affecting men, it now also is crossing the gender gap and striking more and more women.

But there are ways to avoid it. It all centers on seeing a doctor regularly and -- unlike what I did -- tell the doctor if you have persistent heartburn. Further, tell the doc if your persistent heartburn goes away, because that's not normal either. It could indicate an advanced condition known as Barrett's Esophagus, which is a precursor to cancer.

Take your medications as if your life depends on it. If your doctor put you on any of the meds that keep your body from making acid, use it. It could save your life and is a small price to pay to watch your children grow up, celebrate holidays or enjoy a spring afternoon.

So, going to the CT scan Tuesday is just a small inconvenience, and hopefully it will confirm to my doctors that they did an outstanding job in 2007 and 2008 keeping me alive.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New news about esophageal cancer

In recent weeks, there have been a few developments in the fight against cancer of the esophagus.

Esophageal cancer in general is among the fastest growing forms of the disease. And a study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, first reported in The New York Times, indicates even a small amount of alcohol -- a glass of wine or half bottle of beer -- could increase the chance of developing squamous cell esophageal cancer. This is even more so if the patient is of Asian ancestry.

Squamous cell cancer is most often at the upper end of the esophagus, while the type of cancer I had, adenocarcinoma, generally affects the lower end of the esophagus near the stomach. Squamous cell carcinoma also can be caused by smoking, or in combination with drinking.

Here's a link to the New York Times article. 

The other development was the death earlier this month of the actor Ron Silver. Silver had been in a two-year battle with esophageal cancer. He died Sunday, March 15.

His death opened my eyes to the fact that even though I feel pretty good now, I'm not out of the woods 18 months after my initial diagnosis.

I'll continue to update on a more regular basis.