Adam Grover had a great relationship with his father, Gordon, who had a big influence on his life. His father’s death from esophageal cancer caused Adam to reflect on his own health.
“I’ve had a persistent cough for a long time,” Adam said. “I’ve had struggles with reflux. When my father was my age, he had a lot of the same things I have.” Adam has memories of his father often taking something to soothe his painful heartburn episodes.
Gordon’s case of esophageal cancer prompted Adam to be more proactive. Adam decided to get his own symptoms checked out. He went through a series of tests that led to a diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus (BE), a strong risk factor to esophageal cancer.1,2,3
It happens over time. The acid reflux just starts damaging your esophagus.— Adam
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“Knowing what I know now,” Adam reflected, “if I could turn back time, I would have taken my father to see a specialist much earlier. And maybe stopped it while it was Barrett’s esophagus, before it became full-blown esophageal cancer."
“I’m the lesson here. We all live busy lives. Something like heartburn, something like a persistent cough — they’re easy things to ignore. But if you do ignore them, it can lead to worse outcomes. I’m being proactive and getting myself checked out. It’s identified an issue before it could become a major problem. The prognosis is good. I’m not worried about this turning into esophageal cancer. I know that I won’t be going through the same stuff my father went through.”
Barrett’s esophagus patients who have a first degree relative with esophageal adenocarcinoma are at a 5.5-fold increase risk for progression to esophageal adenocarcinoma.4
Information and resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. Always discuss diagnosis and treatment information including risks with your doctor. Keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary.
Hvid-Jensen F et al. Incidence of adenocarcinoma among patients with Barrett’s esophagus. N Engl J Med 2011;365:1375-83.
Pohl H, Welch G. The role of over diagnosis and reclassification in the marked increase of esophageal adenocarcinoma incidence. J Natl Cancer Inst 2005;97:142-6.
De Jonge PJ et al. Risk of malignant progression in patients with Barrett’s oesophagus: a Dutch nationwide cohort study. Gut 2010;59:1030-1036.
Tofani J, Ghandi K, Spataro J, et al. Esophageal adenocarcinoma in a first-degree relative increases risk for esophageal adenocarcinoma in patients with Barrett’s esophagus. United European Gastroenterology Journal. 2019;7(2):225-229.