New test available to detect esophageal cancer

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 3:23 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A new medical test is making its way to some doctors’ offices. The test is mean to detect esophageal cancer, which doctors say is on the rise.

The new test is called EsoGuard. It takes no more than two minutes and it can be done right in your doctor’s office.

“We do an amazing job now treating cancer, but it’s so much easier and so much more effective if we can catch it early,” said Dr. Paul Bradley, a board certified Internist.

Local Primary Care Doctor, Dr. Paul Bradley says if you have heartburn every day and you take acid blockers, like Prilosec and Nexium, you should get tested regularly.

He says this is because these medications suppress the burning sensation so well that an esophageal cancer can grow without any warning.

“First, you have a condition that’s pretty common called Barrett’s esophagus and then that leads, ultimately we think, to cancer of the esophagus.”

Dr. Bradley says every year there are about 20,000 cases of esophageal cancer and as many as 15,000 deaths.

He says prevention is key and with new technology like EsoGuard, testing for abnormal or early cancer cells is much easier than getting a gastroscopy.

“It looks like a little pill and the outside of the pill has a little teeny brush on it and it’s literally attached to a thread.”

Watch as Mary McGrath, Dr. Bradley’s patient, gets it done.

“You swallow the pill and then the pill with the little brush rubs up against the cells in the esophagus. It sits there for literally a few seconds and then with the thread we just pull the pill back out.”

“I could kind of feel a little bit going down my throat, but not much. It didn’t hurt or anything. Before I knew it, it was over with,” said Mary McGrath who got tested.

Dr. Bradley says so far they’ve had several people line up to be tested, including himself. McGrath says she’s glad she got it done and encourages others to as well.

“If you have a little pain or something just go ahead and get this over with because there’s nothing to it and then it could save your life.”

Dr. Bradley says you should check with your doctor’s office to see if they provide the test and if you’d be a candidate for it.

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