Esophageal cancer is one of the more deadly forms of the disease because it's usually diagnosed at advanced stages.
An eastern Iowa woman with the disease reminds you not to ignore heartburn or acid reflux that can cause it in Health Plus.
Joleen Siebert remembers having trouble swallowing pills.
"Food and water, liquids, just wouldn't go down, you know, you take a bite and you'd wait a couple minutes for it to go through," she said.
The 61-year-old Grundy County woman finally went to a doctor and heard the bad news.
She had advanced esophageal cancer.
"It is a very aggressive cancer for those who may suspect especially if they have the heartburn going on they need to get tested they need to be talking to the doctors," she said.
Doctors say heartburn or reflux disease can cause esophageal cancer.
It is one of the fastest types of cancer being diagnosed.
"Most of the time it's going to be based on people presenting with symptoms of difficulty swallowing," said Doctor Carline Quander.
At Covenant Clinic in Waterloo, Quander encourages patients at high risk to be screened.
"Usually if they've had these symptoms for two or three years and they're requiring medication we usually want to have these people have endoscopies to look to see if they have Barrett's. The important thing about Barrett's is if we can identify it we can identify the people that are at risk for esophageal cancer and we can screen these people," said Quander.
Joleen, who had her esophagus removed and part of her stomach, is still undergoing chemotherapy.
"If I help one or two people to recognize their symptoms difficulty swallowing the heartburn, hiccups, coughing," she said it was worth going public.
Patients with Barrett's esophagus have a one in twenty chance of getting aggressive esophageal cancer.
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