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Thread: Throat Gunk and Esophageal Cancer Fear

  1. #1

    Throat Gunk and Esophageal Cancer Fear

    I've been having some throat issues for about a week and a recent visit to WebMD has me panicked. I've been feeling like there is thick mucus in the back of my throat that either doesn't want to go down or is moving very slowly. At first, I thought it was my sinuses as I do tend to get sinus problems, but now I'm unsure whether the mucus is moving down from my sinuses or up from my stomach as reflux. I've been feeling like belching, but have a hard time getting it up (and, when I do, sometime regurgitate some fluid); have had heartburn from time to time; and, today, have a persistent lump toward the "bottom" of my throat that won't go away.

    I'm terrified that I have esophageal cancer as WebMD listed it as a "moderate" likelihood next to GERD and sleep apnea. It doesn't help that I had radiation treatment for lymphoma as a teenager and am also obese, which puts me at higher risk for the disease. I'm almost 34. Does anyone have any advice? Am I overreacting? I'm so scared that I'm dying.

  2. #2
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    Re: Throat Gunk and Esophageal Cancer Fear

    I'm a Head and Neck cancer survivor. I've had an issue with mucous since treatment. Add to that allergies and its a real picnic let me tell you! It actually sounds just like you're describing. GERD coupled with allergy issue. I'm not sure where you're at in the US but here on the East coast, allergies have been brutal this year!

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  3. #3

    Re: Throat Gunk and Esophageal Cancer Fear

    I was hoping youíd show up with some wisdom, Fishman. Iím on the east coast, too - mid-Atlantic, more like - so I know all about the allergy craziness! Everyoneís seem to be weird this year; mine started out as a skin issue instead of the usual nasal crap.

    I saw a doctor at my GPís clinic today and she is pretty confident this is allergy-related based on the post-nasal drip she saw. She gave me a prescription for Nasacourt and told me to relax. I will try to do just that. Itís a struggle to remember that cancer survivors get ďnormal sick,Ē too.

  4. #4

    Re: Throat Gunk and Esophageal Cancer Fear

    I'm dropping in with an update on my crud. I took Rhinocort (not Nasacort as I originally reported) and Prilosec this morning with my usual meds. My tongue and throat have felt dry since last night. I still have gunk in my throat, but now feel like clearing my throat, which I didn't feel before. Not sure if that's a good or bad sign. I've had some belching and regurgitation, which are reflux symptoms, along with dull aches in my shoulder blades, between my shoulder blades, and around to my breastbone. Those make me concerned about esophageal cancer, but I'm trying to keep it together. Haven't eaten anything yet today, so we'll have to see how that goes later. Right now, I'm taking extra gabopentin for my nerves and consider myself "functionally anxious."

  5. #5
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    Re: Throat Gunk and Esophageal Cancer Fear

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelica Schuyler View Post
    I'm dropping in with an update on my crud. I took Rhinocort (not Nasacort as I originally reported) and Prilosec this morning with my usual meds. My tongue and throat have felt dry since last night. I still have gunk in my throat, but now feel like clearing my throat, which I didn't feel before. Not sure if that's a good or bad sign. I've had some belching and regurgitation, which are reflux symptoms, along with dull aches in my shoulder blades, between my shoulder blades, and around to my breastbone. Those make me concerned about esophageal cancer, but I'm trying to keep it together. Haven't eaten anything yet today, so we'll have to see how that goes later. Right now, I'm taking extra gabopentin for my nerves and consider myself "functionally anxious."
    That's progress though. You have to eat! An empty stomach with just acid in it is not a good thing. Those symptoms are definitely Reflux. Sounds like the allergy meds are breaking up the crud so that's good. My wife and I take an OTC allergy med and have a generic Nasocort when they really kick in. I actually take Gabopentin and have for 6 years since my cancer. Treatment gave me neuropathy in my feet and it helps with the nerve pain.

    Hang in there and get something healthy to eat!

    Positive thoughts
    __________________
    "Eat. Drink. Enjoy the work you do. Be thankful for the blessings God gives you in this life. Live, love and seek out the things that bring your heart joy. The rest is meaningless... Like chasing the wind." King Solomon

    The best help is the help you give yourself! http://cbt4panic.org/

  6. #6

    Re: Throat Gunk and Esophageal Cancer Fear

    Thanks for replying again, Fishman. I appreciate all of your encouragement and understanding.

    I took your advice and had something pretty wholesome for lunch - some Tuscan bean soup and some bread - and it seemed to be handled pretty well by my body in terms of both drip and reflux.

    But thatís about where my day peaked. I ended up with some serious pain in the middle of my breastbone and through my shoulder blades, enough to take 800 of ibuprofen when I got home from work. After dinner (hummus, cheese, pretzel crackers, banana), the throat gunk returned along with some regurgitation.

    I started to wonder how long Iíve let this go on without realizing I had a problem, and how much damage could be done. Again, I started panicking about cancer in my esophagus, which I know can be linked to conditions like GERD and develop over time when those conditions are untreated. I also looked up the risk of esophageal cancer for survivors of the lymphoma I had. Naturally, they are pretty high for people like me who had chest radiation, but seem to be a bit lower for those of us who had a reduced dose and field.

    At any rate, itís 3 AM my time, and here I am telling everyone my life story and still worrying about cancer and hyperfocusing on my throat after taking my nighttime meds: is it sore? does it burn? is there phlegm? did the pills go all the way down? did they go down slowly? did anything regurgitate? and on and on and on.

    I hear gaba is good for pain, but I take mine for anxiety as a supplement to my SSRI. Benzos stopped working, and I can adjust my gaba dose depending on how Iím feeling. Tonight, like this morning and afternoon, I took 600 mg instead of 300 mg. It doesnít bring me right back to normal, but slows me down enough to work through the anxiety.

  7. #7

    Re: Throat Gunk and Esophageal Cancer Fear

    Another update, hoping someone will pop in to talk to me because I am scared. I ran my symptoms through WebMD (yes, I know, big mistake) and it gave me esophageal cancer as my top result, a "strong match." I panicked and called my doctor. He wasn't available but I talked to one of the other doctors. She told me that she still thought that allergies or a virus were the cause of my symptoms - the gunk floating down the throat, the lump in the throat, the food laying at the bottom of my throat, the trouble swallowing and food taking its time getting down my throat. She thinks my chest and back pain are probably costochondritis, probably related to a virus. She also thinks I might have some reflux in there, too. I asked if anything could've been seen on my breast screening MRI earlier this year and if anything seen could grow that fast. She said if nothing was there, nothing could've grown so fast to be a problem now.

    I'm still terrified and I'm sitting here at work crying and reaching out to all of you instead of getting my work done. I'm so afraid of dying and I'm wondering if they're missing something now. My Hodgkin's lymphoma took months to diagnose, even with symptoms. And with my risk of other cancers, I'm terrified that they're wrong. Do you guys think they're wrong?

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