Am I on the fast track to esophageal cancer?
October 24, 2012 3:07 PM Subscribe
I have had acid reflux for about a year which is mostly controlled via Zantac but still flares up occasionally. It's basically okay, but I've now realized that it's something I'll have to live with. How worried should I be about getting esophageal damage or cancer?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I am 22, pretty young for this sort of thing.
My symptoms are heartburn, a tight feeling in the chest, and frequent hiccups. Sometimes I feel like air is caught in my throat. I will be fine for month-long stretches (as long as I take my medication) and then it will flare up for a week or two. If I don't take my medication, things get bad again.
I take Zantac (ranitidine) 150 mg twice a day, and Gaviscon as needed if things flared up.
I have experimented with diets and not really found a connection. I still eat many "bad foods" such as oranges and tomatoes because they do not seem to cause any problems for me. The only things I now avoid are beer, plain coffee and Coke.
When this first happened I went to a doctor and was given a spectrum of blood tests including a check for celiac and h. pylori (both negative). I have never had an endoscopy because my doctor did not find it necessary.
I have not been seeing a doctor since because I found them extremely unhelpful - I went to three doctors and they all pushed PPI drugs on me despite me saying that I didn't want them. I had tried both Tecta and Nexium and they made me much worse with horrible bloating, stomach pains and feeling constantly full. (I'm also worried about PPI since they reduce iron absorption and I have struggled with anemia due to heavy menstruation.) I have not had any side effects with Zantac. However, doctors have told me that the PPI drugs are much better and there is no reason why I should have had these side effects.
I feel like I am doing an OK job of managing my reflux on my own with Zantac, and I've gotten used to the occasional flare-ups. I'm still worried about getting Barrett's esophagus or cancer, though. (It doesn't help that I have a MAJOR history of health anxiety.)
How worried should I be after a year of heartburn symptoms? Like, is there a chance I could have cancer already?
When do I need to see a doctor and get an endoscopy?
Also: has anyone had any luck with any 'natural' remedies for reflux, like papaya enzyme or probiotics? I tried apple cider vinegar but it didn't seem to do much at all.