Barrett's Esophagus Awareness
If you have chronic acid reflux or frequent heartburn, you are at risk for a condition called Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus is a change in the lining of the esophagus, the swallowing tube that carries foods and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. Left untreated, it can lead to cancer of the esophagus. About 3.3 million American adults have Barrett's esophagus.
Individuals with Barrett’s esophagus may not have any symptoms. However, most patients diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus have a history of longstanding gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Typical symptoms of GERD include:
- Heartburn - a burning sensation in the chest
- Regurgitation - sensation of food or gastric acid backing up into the esophagus or throat
- Dysphagia - difficulty swallowing (Note: this symptom requires immediate medical attention)
It is estimated that 13% of the people who have chronic acid reflux also have Barrett’s esophagus.
- In a study published in 2005, Barrett's esophagus was estimated to affect approximately 3.3 million adults over 50 years of age in the United States.
- People with Barrett's esophagus are 2 to 4 fold more likely to develop cancer of the esophagus.
- The incidence of esophagus cancer has risen about six-fold in the U.S. since the 1970s. It is rising faster than breast cancer, prostate cancer, or melanoma.
- The average age for the development of Barrett’s esophagus is 50.
- Men develop Barrett’s esophagus twice as often as women, and Caucasian men are affected more often than men of other races. Barrett’s esophagus is uncommon in children.s
How is Barrett's esophagus diagnosed?
Barrett’s esophagus can be easily diagnosed by routine upper endoscopy and confirmed on biopsy. More challenging, however, is the detection of precancerous and cancerous change in Barrett’s esophagus. It is best to use advanced imaging technology to detect dysplasia and cancerous changes at the very earliest stage when treatment is most effective.
Dr Meckstroth recommends that, “In order to properly detect the precancerous and cancerous change, advanced imaging technology should be used.” Optical Zoom and high-resolution endoscopy, like those used at Premier Endoscopy Center, with High Definition Endoscopes equipped with microchips that generate high-resolution images with optical magnification greatly enhance the tissue architecture and vascular pattern. This technology is available in only a few centers in the world.
If you have symptoms of GERD or Acid Reflux Disease and would like more information or to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our physicians to discuss upper endoscopy procedure using high definition endoscopes, please contact our office at (239) 593-6201 or send an email with the subject “Barrett’s Esophagus” to email@example.com.
If you have frequent or long-standing acid reflux symptoms and have not consulted your physician, you should contact our offices at (239) 593-6201. Left untreated, acid reflux can lead to the development of pre-cancerous cells.
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