William McGinley – Esophageal Cancer Success Story

Turning to Texas

William McGinley – esophageal cancer success storyWilliam McGinley of Arkansas found his esophageal cancer cure at Methodist Digestive Institute

Barrett’s esophagus. It’s not a term you hear every day, but for those who have it, it’s nothing to take lightly. This serious condition can lead to an even more serious result — esophageal cancer.

Arkansas native William McGinley has lived and worked on his family land his whole life. Diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus in 2011, he knew the cancer risk and followed his doctor’s orders to have an annual biopsy.

His diligence paid off. At his annual checkup five years ago, when a biopsy revealed cancerous cells, he followed his doctor’s recommendation and contacted Methodist Digestive Institute (MDI) at Methodist Dallas Medical Center.

What is Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more commonly known as acid reflux. Chronic acid reflux can, over time, replace the normal cells along the lining of the esophagus with cells similar to those along the intestinal lining. This is called Barrett’s esophagus.

About 10 percent of people with chronic GERD will develop Barrett’s esophagus, and only 1 percent of those will develop esophageal cancer. William was one of the 1 percent.

“My doctor and I discussed what to do,” he says. “I needed a procedure to remove part of the esophageal lining, but evidently no one in the area could do it. My doctor was familiar with Dr. Paul Tarnasky and knew he was doing the procedure in Dallas. He told me, ‘If I was in your shoes, I’d go down there to see him.’”

Keeping cancer at bay

William McGinley – esophageal cancer At Methodist Dallas, William met with Paul Tarnasky, MD, gastroenterologist on the MDI medical staff. Dr. Tarnasky used two minimally invasive endoscopic procedures to treat William’s condition.

First, he removed the cancerous cells with an endoscopic resection. During this procedure, the doctor gently guides instruments through the esophagus to the area that is diseased, and then removes the affected tissue and inner lining.

To ensure any remaining pre-cancerous cells are also destroyed, Dr. Tarnasky prescribed six treatments of radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Similar to the prior procedure, the doctor guides the RFA instrument — an inflatable balloon with small electrodes that isolate and destroy abnormal cells — to the affected area of the esophagus and inflates it. As electrical current passes through the electrodes to the lining of the esophagus, the lining is heated, which burns and destroys potential cancer cells.

The procedure itself takes less than an hour, does not require an incision or major surgery, and requires only a few days of downtime with very little pain. By the end of the six treatments in January 2016, William no longer had esophageal cancer — or Barrett’s esophagus, for that matter. With a cancer scare behind him, he is back on his family land and back to life as usual, working in his shop.

“The cancer is gone,” William says. “As for Methodist Digestive Institute, I really, really liked Dr. Tarnasky. I’m thankful that my doctor was able to connect me with him and feel fortunate I was able to see him.”