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Doctor explains the danger of GERD

“Unfortunately, esophageal cancer has a very high mortality rate, basically your survival rate is less than 20%”
Published: Jan. 19, 2021 at 10:45 AM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — During a pandemic, it can be easy to overlook other health issues. One Twin Falls doctor is reminding the community about gastro-esophageal reflux disease, otherwise known as GERD.

GERD is a digestive disorder that affects a person’s esophagus and stomach. If a person experiences acid reflux or heartburn it could indicate they have GERD. Other symptoms include burning pain in the chest that usually happens after eating and can worsen when lying down. One symptom less commonly known is shortness of breath or feeling the need to clear your throat.

Dr. Gregory Wickern tells KMVT if not treated, GERD can lead to esophageal cancer.

“Unfortunately, esophageal cancer has a very high mortality rate,” he said. “Basically your survival rate is less than 20%. So it’s important to identify people in the early change stage before they actually advance to esophageal cancer.”

A typical screening in the past included being sedated, but a new device called EsoCheck, using a DNA test called EsoGuard, is allowing doctors to screen patients in as little as 5-10 minutes. One patient also urges people to do their research, especially if they are experiencing symptoms.

“But I think the biggest thing is to really educating yourself on what it is,” said Paul Wickern, a patient of Dr. Wickern. “And my biggest advice really is to not self-medicate. There are too many people watching the TV out there and they see Larry the cable guy come on TV, and saying, ‘Hey, take your medication and you’ll be able to go eat that other chili dog.‘”

Dr. Wickern also said if caught early, there are nonsurgical treatments available.

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