rocknorth

Terrified of esophogus cancer

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I’ll preface this by saying I do have a history of being a hypochondriac, and a rather large one at that.

 

with that said, I’m a 27 year old male, about 220 lbs 5’11 and I’ve been suffering from what I believe to be GERD since my early 20s. It’s never been all that sever, and seems to be tied directly to my anxiety. Normally a single Zantac is enough to bring symptoms under control.

Surprisingly, my GERD has never been a large part of my anxiety, up until about 3 weeks-month a ago when I developed difficulty swallowing.

whats odd about it, however, is that it’s only on the left side of my throat. Not middle or right.

i didn’t think much past “it’s probably just post nasal drip” (which I have a lot of) up until tonight when I finally broke down and had an anxiety attack after... googling.

i can’t figure out what this could be other than something ominous at this point considering how long it’s lasted and I’m about at my wits end.

i scheduled an appointment for later this week and all I can think of is how I’m going to be starting down this road of incredibly unlikely survival once I get to the doc.

has anyone else out there had any similar symptoms and it turned out to be fine? 

 

I should also point out that changing the posistion of my head/neck can completely eliminate the sensation of having trouble swallowing

 

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I had something that sounds very similar to this recently! I too suffer from GERD.

But I believe mine was because something scratched my throat. It wasn’t painful but it felt like something was stuck in there, and it at was only on my right side. I asked a Dr about it and they said it didn’t sound like anything concerning and I probably did just scratch it. It happens. 

It went away on its own, but like yours when I moved my head/neck in different positions or drank water it seemed not to be there. 

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52 minutes ago, Sumotherguy said:

I had something that sounds very similar to this recently! I too suffer from GERD.

But I believe mine was because something scratched my throat. It wasn’t painful but it felt like something was stuck in there, and it at was only on my right side. I asked a Dr about it and they said it didn’t sound like anything concerning and I probably did just scratch it. It happens. 

It went away on its own, but like yours when I moved my head/neck in different positions or drank water it seemed not to be there. 

How long did it last if you don’t mind me asking?

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It last about a week, maybe a little less. After about 2 days with each passing day seemed to get better. 

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I've had this several times, and I also have GERD. I take a PPI currently, but my doc is trying to slowly ween me off of it. In doing so (went down to 20mg), I've experienced a little more symptoms than I was when I first started the PPI at 40mg. What you describe sounds perfectly normal for GERD, and possibly even a simple injury caused by something such as food that scratched your esophagus.

Esophageal cancer is very rare, and that much more rare in someone your age. My dad had esophageal cancer diagnosed at 59, and I think it's quite amazing he didn't develop it earlier in his life due to a long history of several risk factors. But despite all his risk factors, it still took a few decades to become a problem.

Treat your GERD. Talk to your doc about it if you can't seem to control it on your own. Don't smoke, don't drink heavily, avoid trigger foods, etc. Yes, anxiety can exacerbate it, so I also recommend doing what you can to treat anxiety, which is important even if you don't have GERD.

IMO, you're fine.

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So this was a fear of mine. Before I respond, I wanted to add: medical statistical data shows over 71% of throat cancers are favorable for being cured or removed successfully. And its incredibly rare for people your age (or mine, mid 30's) to get esophageal cancers so early in life.

I'm not a doctor but I can relate and hopefully this will help you.

November of 2018 I had a bad upper respiratory and sinus infection and strep throat. Took antibiotics but never felt like it fully went away after 2 weeks of pills. I go back to my doctor and she shotguns allergy recommendations at me saying she thinks its post nasal drip. The meds don't help at all. I continued to clear my throat, CONSTANTLY. Every 5 minutes through until January this year, I was clearing my throat to the point I couldn't speak at the end of the day and I had a "lump" feeling in my throat that made everything I swallowed feel as if it was being caught in there on some "thing". Food, drink. Whatever. I was convinced I had throat cancer or extra tissue that was blocking my airway, or a tumor.

But then I started massaging my throat muscles around my Adam's apple with my fingertips and discovered a lot of the "sensations" I was feeling was fromthe tightly drawn throat muscles from having cleared my throat all day. Simply massaging around my Adam's apple would reduce or completely eliminate the sensation.

I then began to think I was going to drown in my own mucus production that gave me the "sensation" to clear my throat. Despite never taking into account the constant irritation I was causing myself by clearing my throat nonstop throughout the day - over THE COURSE OF MONTHS. So I go to a larynologist who looks down my sinuses and briefly (maybe seconds) down my throat and says he doesn't see anything wrong. I don't believe him. So I go to another larynologist who doesn't even bother looking down my throat. He was the worst. Tells me for a 5 minute $135 visit: "Just stop clearing your throat." Well geezer, if it was that easy I'd have never wasted my time, right?

I'm livid. It's mid-March and I'm not satisfied. I finally go to a 3rd larynologist. Who was also about to dismiss me without looking down my throat until I told him I have GERD. He takes a cursory look, sees ulcers on my voice box and "white spots" he says he thinks are fungal growth from acid reflux. Tells me my throat is raw. I tell him I never felt my throat burning or acid reflux issues since I take a stomach acid reducer and he says it isn't always severe enough to cause NOTICEABLE ISSUES. 

He goes on to say, the more you clear the mucus from your throat - the quicker your body produces it to replace it and when you clear your throat,  your vocal chords slam very hard together and overtime cause swelling,  irritation, soreness that create that "lump" feeling. What I thought was my "drowning in mucus" was my body trying to find a way to heal the acid burns in my throat. 

I had misdiagnosed as "cancer" or a "cold that will never go away". Because the symptoms are all so similar. And that's what's important to remember. 

Your sore throat,  could be post nasal drip, could be allergies, could be acid reflux, could be anything non life threatening but it's in our nature to prepare for worst case scenarios so we can be ready to tackle anything coming at us.

I'm not saying this is your issue. But you can imagine, how I was immediately angry and scared it took 3 doctors to even find an issue. My wife talked to me and helped me rationalize. "Aren't you relieved you found out what was wrong? You thought you had cancer this whole time and come to find you didn't." And to an extent, I wasn't scared anymore because the "mystery" of what was wrong with me was gone and now I could work on recovering. 

There are so many complex things about our body, responses, counter responses to our actions, imaginary sensations - that if I had sat around and tried to figure it out on my own I would have gone insane.

I had a counselor talking me through this whole period as if these throat sensations were all imaginary. Only to find they were in fact real.

And it didn't devastate or blow up my world, to come to this conclusion even though you can imagine how frustrating,  time consuming and expensive it was. Because what did I learn?

Next time I have an issue, I'm not going sheepishly sit there and nod and say "Well doc, whatever you think.. is best..."

I'm gonna be straight forward. 

"Doc, I've had this pain and sensation down my throat for months and everyone has done everything and given every kind of medication and no one has actually looked at it. I want you to scope my throat." - I'll be thorough in detailing what I want done.

Another tactic. Ask your doctor if you can audio record your visit so you can't misconstrue what your doctor says. I've done this before - where a doctor makes an inconspicuous comment I later twisted into something negative. Only to replay the recording and find that was actually causing a lot of my own imaginary fears.

Summary:

I suffered for 5 months. Didn't die. Turns out it wasn't cancer. No permanent damage. The body heals.

Get GERD under control by diet, not overeating,  not laying down / bending over within two hours of eating.

I still have post nasal drip /sinus problems. Still cough up mucus every morning. Doctors don't seem alarmed. 4 of them, by the way. At this point I have to think logically. Do I know I'm hypersensitive to "feelings" or "changes" in my body? Yes. Do I know I have health anxiety? Yes. Have 30 doctors been able to find cancer over the last 2 years of appointments I've made, wasting thousands of dollars? No. So the logical conclusion is that this fear, is pointless. Over nothing. 

When you go to your doctor. Be direct about what you want. Explain you want to have your throat looked at. They run this little camera down the back of your sinus and look at your vocal chords. At least at an ENT. It completely demystifies your fears.

Don't prop your pillows so high up in bed. It can cause neck strain and that irritation on your Adam's apple the following day.

Alternatively,  don't look down at your smartphone for hours on end. Hold it up eye level more often when playing on it. Looking down all day sort of pushes down on your Adam's apple. I discovered this from completing work orders or service requests through my job, over my phone all day long. Looking down. 8 hours on end. Even just a few hours can strain your muscles. 

Fear is pointless. Being afraid of cancer, won't make it go away even if you have it (which you more than likely don't). And only makes you feel like a fool when you find (like in my case) that many months later you wasted so many hours, days, weeks being miserable instead of enjoying your life.

Don't Google symptoms. The symptoms of a normal headache are those of an aneurysm. Symptoms are around to tell your body, something is wrong. Not to scare you. Not to prewarn you, so you can get your funds ready to fight the next medical cost. Its simply there to say, something is wrong. But "wrong" isn't immediately equated to "death". "Wrong" could be a strained muscle, or a bruise you didn't remember getting. Could be anxiety or stress based pain. A simple pinched nerve. Not immediately cancer. Or a hemorrhage, or a heart attack, or blood clot or any other worst case scenarios we can think of.

Enjoy your life. Be happy knowing you're going to the doctor to have your problem checked out. Take comfort in that. And be direct about what you want done and examined so that when you leave you aren't thinking: "I wish I'd said this or asked him to check that."

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On 4/15/2019 at 10:53 PM, rocknorth said:

I’ll preface this by saying I do have a history of being a hypochondriac, and a rather large one at that.

 

with that said, I’m a 27 year old male, about 220 lbs 5’11 and I’ve been suffering from what I believe to be GERD since my early 20s. It’s never been all that sever, and seems to be tied directly to my anxiety. Normally a single Zantac is enough to bring symptoms under control.

Surprisingly, my GERD has never been a large part of my anxiety, up until about 3 weeks-month a ago when I developed difficulty swallowing.

whats odd about it, however, is that it’s only on the left side of my throat. Not middle or right.

i didn’t think much past “it’s probably just post nasal drip” (which I have a lot of) up until tonight when I finally broke down and had an anxiety attack after... googling.

i can’t figure out what this could be other than something ominous at this point considering how long it’s lasted and I’m about at my wits end.

i scheduled an appointment for later this week and all I can think of is how I’m going to be starting down this road of incredibly unlikely survival once I get to the doc.

has anyone else out there had any similar symptoms and it turned out to be fine? 

 

I should also point out that changing the posistion of my head/neck can completely eliminate the sensation of having trouble swallowing

 

Does that happen every day ? Because in my case ive had burning throat for few month.first i thought i have “throat Cancer” I did get 2 throat endoscopes and its perfectly clear and my ENT Dr thinks its my Acid reflux which surprises me because really never had any Acid Reflux problems before.off course i google everything and now I'm convinced that I've “Esophagus Cancer” When i mentioned to dr my sometimes swallowing difficulties she said its probably caused from acid but if it did not change over time we should do swallowing studies which i don't think i need it. I also have chest pain and very weird taste in my throat.  Did you see dr already. Please let us know what dr thinks. My appt with GI is on Tuesday. Good luck.  

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I had an esophageal ulcer back in around 2003. Everytime I ate food, my back felt like it was on fire. I had no heartburn or reflux. It was uncovered by an EGD. I was put on Nexium and had another EGD done 6 weeks later and it had healed. Today I take a small dose of Prilosec each day. I also had no difficulty swallowing or with food getting stuck. I have had a total of 9 EGDs to date. My GI physician told me esophageal cancer is found predominately in older individuals and even with individuals who have Barretts esophagus, it is relatively unusual. 

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26 minutes ago, MARC said:

I had an esophageal ulcer back in around 2003. Everytime I ate food, my back felt like it was on fire. I had no heartburn or reflux. It was uncovered by an EGD. I was put on Nexium and had another EGD done 6 weeks later and it had healed. Today I take a small dose of Prilosec each day. I also had no difficulty swallowing or with food getting stuck. I have had a total of 9 EGDs to date. My GI physician told me esophageal cancer is found predominately in older individuals and even with individuals who have Barretts esophagus, it is relatively unusual. 

When i eat food it always smoothens my throat its when I'm not eating or drinking i have burning sensation and tastes weird not so much an acidic taste tho. I am taking omeprazole and I'm hoping it will help but i have feeling it wont. I have GI on Tuesday and hoping i can get to the bottom if thus because its so exhausting. Did your esophageal ulcer completely cured? 

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