Executive Health Exam Reveals Life-threatening Cancer for La Jolla Hotel Executive

Comprehensive WholePerson Examination saves life through early cancer detection

La Jolla hotel executive Jeff Carlstead

Every year for the past two decades, hotel executive Jeff Carlstead has come to Scripps Center for Executive Health for a WholePerson Examination, a comprehensive, 1-day exam that combines a full physical with fitness and lifestyle counseling. As a runner with 25 marathons under his belt, Jeff, 69, believes the annual exam is important to maintaining his health. But he never expected it would save his life.

It was during one of his annual examinations at Scripps Center for Executive Health with internal medicine specialist Robert Kaplan, MD, Jeff mentioned that his throat had been feeling dry. Since Jeff was due for a colonoscopy, Dr. Kaplan recommended doing an endoscopy of his throat as well, just to rule out any problems.

It was a valuable recommendation. The endoscopy revealed that Jeff had a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, a serious complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that can increase the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma, a potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus. Though the risk of developing the cancer is less than 1 percent among people with Barrett’s esophagus, Jeff was one of the unlucky ones.

Early detection means early, life-saving treatment

Dr. H. Jurgen Lenz performed the endoscopy and found my cancer,” says Jeff. “He had the unfortunate task of telling me I needed to get this taken care of or I would have just six months to live.”

A biopsy of his esophagus revealed six points of cancer. Fortunately, it was detected early and surgery successfully removed the tumors with no need for chemotherapy or radiation.

“I can honestly credit Dr. Kaplan for being the one that started the process and enabled them to catch it at stage one,” says Jeff. “He saved my life.”

Though Jeff has been told his chances for recurrence are in the low single digits, he still has an annual check-up with the surgeon. And, he has his WholePerson Examination every year with Dr. Kaplan.

“I’m very fortunate, and it all started with Scripps Center for Executive Health,” Jeff says. “The executive physical just works for me. It’s a convenient, one-stop shop and then I’m done for the year. I get a call from Dr. Kaplan the next morning with a summary, and a full report in a few days. And the referrals to the other doctors are excellent.”