Robert Rappo

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Esophageal Cancer Treatment

Esophageal Cancer Patient Stories

Barrett's Esophagus, Esophageal Cancer
Robert Rappo

Robert Rappo has been struggling with renal failure and the resulting health issues since 1995. An endoscopy performed in the fall of 2008 resulted in a surprising diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus with high dysplasia. The reason he was caught off guard was that he had no symptoms.

Barrett's esophagus can increase a person's risk of esophageal cancer.

Barrett's esophagus occurs when the tissue lining of the esophagus is replaced by tissue that is similar to the lining of the intestine. This process is called intestinal metaplasia. Although Barrett's esophagus has no particular symptoms associated with it, this condition often affects people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In addition, there is a risk of developing cancer of the esophagus.

Robert had been taking immune suppressant drugs for 15 years due to a kidney transplant. He knew of both the risks and side effects. Robert has always been an educated health consumer and is familiar with the healthcare system. He visited several hospitals to obtain a second and third opinion of his diagnosis. Finally, he went to a large Philadelphia university hospital for an endoscopic mucosal resection. The gastroenterologist felt that his Barrett's was too extensive and had multiple nodular components to it, so he recommended surgery.

Due to his health history, Robert was considered a high-risk surgical patient. He was on dialysis because his body rejected the transplanted kidney, which resulted in congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Robert knew how important it would be to choose the most experienced surgeon for his procedure. Robert scheduled the recommended surgery and was admitted the night before. However, he did not have confidence in the staff and decided to cancel the surgery.

"At the other hospital, I was not impressed with the surgeons I had met up until that point," shared Robert. "Because I had a bad feeling, I left the hospital. After searching the Internet, I made an appointment at Fox Chase Cancer Center."

"I was immediately impressed with Fox Chase."

"I was immediately impressed with Fox Chase when my doctors explained the procedure they would use, which is less invasive than the technique used by most other surgeons," admitted Robert. "I liked that they were direct and honest about my risk due to my other medical conditions." They explained that if the endoscopy report was correct, Robert had an increased chance of having invasive esophageal cancer.

Robert scheduled his surgery for April 2009. The surgery, which involved an extensive resection and the removal of 43 lymph nodes, went smoothly and Robert was up and walking the following day. Fortunately, all of the lymph nodes were negative for cancer. The high node count was really important since Robert did not feel that he could tolerate chemotherapy.

"I was treated with highly competent and compassionate care."

"After surgery, I was treated with highly competent and compassionate care," noted Robert, who had been in and out of several hospitals in the past couple of years because of his health problems. He is grateful to his doctors and nurses and credits them with his good condition. He is eating normally again and has returned to his daily activity level and lifestyle, including exercise. Robert was truly impressed by the fact that he had little scarring and quick healing due to the minimally invasive surgical technique.

"The care at Fox Chase was in a class of its own."

"I cannot say enough about my doctors and nurses," Robert added. "Everyone I met at Fox Chase was remarkable. Thank you for all of your help!"