What is it?
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that affects the esophagus where the cells that are normally present in your esophagus change to a different type of cell due to acid reflux. Barrett’s esophagus is a precursor for esophageal cancer.
Risk factors are higher for people who:
- Have a history of reflux for more than five years
- Experience frequent, bothersome symptoms of reflux
- Are Caucasian
- Are male
- Have a family history of Barrett’s esophagus or esophageal cancer
- Are overweight
- Have a current or former smoking history
- Are over the age of 50
What are the symptoms?
Unfortunately, Barrett’s esophagus doesn’t cause symptoms until it’s too late and has become esophageal cancer. Approximately 50% of people with esophageal cancer never experience any signs or symptoms, including symptoms of reflux. If you do have symptoms of reflux or take medication for reflux, it is important to be screened for Barrett’s esophagus.
How is it diagnosed?
Barrett’s esophagus can be diagnosed with an EGD or upper endoscopy, where a flexible camera is used to look at your esophagus and stomach. This helps your doctor look for those abnormal cells and take samples to test for Barrett’s esophagus.
How is it treated?
Barrett’s esophagus is treated by getting rid of your acid reflux to prevent progression to Esophageal Cancer. If you have a more advanced form of Barrett’s esophagus, this can be treated with ablation to eliminate these abnormal cells and significantly decrease your risk of esophageal cancer.