Barrett’s Esophagus

Barrett’s Esophagus is a complication of GERD where the tissue lining the esophagus changes to more resemble the tissue in the small intestine.

What is Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that arises as a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It occurs when the normal lining of the esophagus undergoes changes, resembling the lining of the intestines. Although having Barrett’s esophagus increases the risk of esophageal cancer, the likelihood of developing cancer from this condition is less than 1%. If you or someone you know has GERD, it is important to schedule regular appointments with a gastroenterologist in your area to monitor the condition and watch for any signs of Barrett’s esophagus. The Gut Clinic UK can assist you in finding a local gastroenterologist.

Who gets Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus primarily affects individuals with long-term untreated gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). However, not everyone with GERD develops Barrett’s esophagus. It is more likely to occur if acid reflux is left unmanaged over an extended period. Several factors increase the risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, including:

– Male gender
– Caucasian ethnicity
– Age over 50
– Excessive abdominal fat
– Genetic predisposition
– Current or past smoking habits

What are the symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus does not typically present with specific symptoms. In many cases, individuals with Barrett’s esophagus may not experience any noticeable signs or symptoms.

If you have been consistently experiencing acid reflux or similar symptoms for an extended period, it is advisable to consult with your gastroenterologist and undergo appropriate testing. The definitive method to confirm the presence of Barrett’s esophagus is to undergo an upper endoscopy, where a biopsy of the esophageal tissue is taken.

However, there are common symptoms associated with Barrett’s esophagus, which may include:

– Persistent heartburn (acid reflux)
– Difficulty swallowing
– Occasional chest pain (less common)

What are the treatments for Barrett’s esophagus?

The treatments for Barrett’s esophagus depend on the extent of abnormal cell growth, referred to as dysplasia, in the esophagus. The specific degree of dysplasia determines the appropriate course of treatment. Here are the different degrees of dysplasia and their corresponding treatments:

– No dysplasia: Even in the absence of precancerous cells, it is crucial to undergo regular endoscopies with your gastroenterologist to monitor any changes in precancerous tissues. Your physician may recommend treatments similar to those for GERD, such as lifestyle modifications or medication.
– Low-grade dysplasia: If there is a small amount of abnormal cell growth, treatment options may include endoscopic resection or radiofrequency ablation.
– High-grade dysplasia: In cases involving a significant amount of precancerous tissue, treatments such as cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy, or surgery may be necessary.

It is essential to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable treatment approach based on the degree of dysplasia present in your esophagus.


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