The symptoms of esophageal cancer are common ailments most people initially ignore. Dr. Peter Enzinger talks about esophageal cancer and explains how to spot the warning signs. Find out more about treatment and care for people with cancer of the esophagus: http://www.dana-farber.org/Adult-Care/Treatment-and-Support/Esophageal-Cancer.aspx
Reporter: Even at 70, it’s hard to keep Ed Gardella off the softball field.
Ed: Ah, first day.
Reporter: But when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, instead of stepping up to home plate, Ed had to step back. Even more than 30 years in law enforcement couldn’t prepare him for this battle.
Ed: I was feeling kind of beat up during that period of time, but never once did I want to die, I just entertained the thought that dying can’t be as bad as this. Hey, what have you got?
Reporter: Like most people who get esophageal cancer, the disease caught Ed and his wife Elaine by surprise. The warning signs are common ailments most people initially ignore, like problems swallowing, chest pain or heartburn, weight loss, and fatigue. Dr. Peter Enzinger is Ed’s doctor. He’s an esophageal cancer expert at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Dr. Enzinger: It certainly is not as common as the big cancers—lung, breast, prostate cancer—but it does occur in about 14,000 patients a year in the United States. It seems to occur much more so in men than in women. Men have about a tenfold higher risk of this cancer than women do.
Reporter: After undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, and then radiation, Ed has been cancer free for more than five years. Besides practicing his swing, Ed now spends his time mentoring other cancer patients, giving them the same support others gave him when he was going through treatment.
Ed: She took both my hands, and she said, “You keep on keeping on.” And I thought about that a couple hundred times—even today. You keep on keeping on.
Reporter: At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, I’m Anne Door reporting.