Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor

I am having trouble swallowing and noticed a lump in my throat. I have drainage down the back of my throat, and my voice is changing. When I swallow food or pills they seem to stick. Could this be cancer?

Your symptoms may indicate a variety of issues. Difficulty eating and swallowing can have a significant impact on a person’s life and can also be an indicator of larger problems that may be on the horizon.

The most common cause of the type of swallowing problem you have described may be due to gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, which can cause ulcers in the esophagus and may narrow the esophagus by scarring.

Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, difficulty swallowing can also be caused by stroke, multiple sclerosis, tumors or scleroderma, an immune system problem, which causes the tissues of the esophagus to harden and narrow.

In order to make the correct diagnosis, your health care provider may order an esophagoscopy. An esophagoscopy is a test which uses a thin, lighted telescope-like instrument to examine the esophagus to make sure nothing more serious is present.

The esophagus is the muscular tube leading from the mouth into the stomach.

Ministry Medical Group Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist Richard Jennings, DO, will lead an informative discussion on The Warning Signs of Swallowing Problems on Wednesday, September 29, at 6 p.m. in the Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital Conference Center in Weston (Parking Lot and Entrance 3).

Jennings regularly performs ENT procedures relating to allergies, sinus disorders, tonsils, ear disorders, swallowing, thyroid issues and voice disorders. His program is the latest in Ministry Medical Group’s “Health Connection” consumer education program.

Jennings says that the recent disclosure by actor Michael Douglas that he has Stage 4 Throat Cancer is a perfect example of these warning signs.

“In this case a sore throat was the warning sign that caused Mr. Douglas to seek treatment,” said Jennings who has more 20 years of experience treating patients. “In this case it was cancer, but there are a number of other things that trouble swallowing can trigger and these warning signs can open the door to a number of difference treatment options.

There is no charge for this free program, but registration is required by calling Ministry Medical Group in Weston at 888-666-2708.

 
 
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