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Warning signs of esophageal cancer

As the rest of the world observes breast cancer awareness month in October, medics in Kericho have decried the rising cases of esophageal cancer urging residents to know the risk factors to reduce chances of developing the disease.

Esophageal cancer is a disease where malignant cancer cells form in the tissues of the esophagus which is a long hollow tube that connects the throat to the stomach.

In an interview with KNA on Saturday, a consultant medic at Siloam hospital Kericho, Dr Ismail Waqeh Hegazy advised residents to recognise early warning signs such as recurrent heartburns, difficulty when swallowing liquids and solid foods, pain in the throat, or persistent coughing or hoarseness of the voice.

With such symptoms, Dr Hegazy said one should go for an endoscopy test to confirm the presence of the disease or not, where a medic passes a flexible tube equipped with a video lens down the throat and into the esophagus to test for cancer.

“Once you have recurrent heartburns or acid reflux, seek medical advice. There’s need to do endoscopy which is important so as to rule out the presence of the disease. During this test, a doctor looks inside your stomach with a thin, lighted tube called an endoscope. The procedure takes around 10-20 minutes while the patient is under local anesthesia and without any discomfort,” said Dr Hegazy.

He lamented that the hospital was diagnosing at least four patients per week with the ailment, an indicator the disease was rampant in Kericho.

The medic said risk factors include drinking very hot tea, mursik or fermented milk, smoking, alcohol use, and poor dietary habits.

“I detect three to four patients with esophageal cancer and my advice is to people in Kericho who enjoy drinking tea, coffee or other hot beverages to seek medical attention to rule out the growth of  esophageal cancer once they detect recurrent reflux,” added Dr Hegazy.

The medic cautioned patients against using over the counter medications whenever they experience the symptoms of the disease but seek treatment at medical facilities to detect esophagus cancer early and increase chances of getting treatment and cure.

“If you experience the symptoms do not go to the chemist for antacid medications but seek medical help immediately. When an individual experiences difficulty swallowing, it has possibly reached the levels of esophageal cancer, “said Dr Hegazy.

By Sarah Njagi

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