News from the Department of Surgery
Esophageal Cancer - Transcript of WOAI Interview with Scott Johnson, MD
San Antonio, Texas, 14 September 2006
Jim Forsyth, WOAI 1200 Radio, San Antonio: Cancer of the esophagus, which killed Governor Ann Richards, is one of the least understood and fastest growing cancers.
Cancer specialist Dr. Scott Johnson at the U.T. Health Science Center says Richards was diagnosed in March and died in September. By the time you're diagnosed, it's usually too late:
Dr. Johnson: And so if you're one of those individuals, life expectancy is not unusual to be in the neighborhood of six to 12 months after initial diagnosis.
Forsyth: He says there are two types of esophageal cancer, one connected to smoking. The other may be associated with acid reflux disease. Johnson says at its current rate esophageal cancer could rival lung cancer in the number of cases in the coming decade.
Dr. Johnson: The rate of rise is alarming, and if this continues, I think, you know, within a decade it's going to be a major cancer player.
Forsyth: Cancer of the esophagus should worry all of us. Dr. Johnson says one of the reasons Richards died so quickly is part of the nature of the cancer:
Dr. Johnson: Once you develop symptoms, usually cancer is already involving at least 75 percent of the circumference of the esophagus, and it is not unusual to have lymphatic involvement as well from the cancers.
Forsyth: Dr. Johnson says acid reflux disease could be a symptom of cancer of the esophagus, which is not necessarily related to smoking.