About 1% of people in the United States have Barrett’s esophagus. Though rare, Barrett’s esophagus increases the risk of esophageal cancer. However, this condition doesn’t always cause symptoms and may go undiagnosed. If you have a history of acid reflux, Gateway Gastroenterology in Chesterfield, Missouri, recommends screening for Barrett’s esophagus. To find out more about Barrett’s esophagus, call or request an appointment online today.
Barrett’s esophagus is a digestive condition in which the cells that line your esophagus change. For reasons still under investigation, the cells that line the esophagus become more like the cells that line your intestine.
Barrett’s esophagus is more common in people with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Though rare, having Barrett’s esophagus increases a person’s risk of esophageal cancer.
The tissue changes that occur because of Barrett’s esophagus cause no symptoms. However, if you have GERD symptoms, you should schedule a Barrett’s esophagus consultation at Gateway Gastroenterology.
GERD is a chronic digestive condition that causes symptoms such as:
Occasional acid reflux is normal. However, if you have acid reflux two or more times a week, you have GERD and are at risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus. Up to 15% of people with GERD have Barrett’s esophagus.
Your gastroenterologist at Gateway Gastroenterology performs an upper endoscopy to diagnose Barrett’s esophagus. They may recommend this minimally invasive procedure if you have a history of GERD and they want to screen for Barrett’s esophagus.
During the endoscopic procedure, your gastroenterologist uses an endoscope — a thin tube with a light and camera — to evaluate the lining of your esophagus. They may take tissue samples (biopsy) from several spots along the length of your esophagus.
They send these samples to a pathology lab for analysis. When evaluating the tissue, the pathologist looks for cell changes and precancerous cells or dysplasia.
Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus depends on your symptoms and the results of your biopsy.
Barrett’s esophagus without dysplasia means your gastroenterologist didn’t find any precancerous cells. Treatment focuses on managing GERD.
If you have precancerous cells, you have Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia. Treatment for this type of Barrett’s esophagus may include frequent monitoring or removal of the precancerous cells through radiofrequency ablation (heat energy to burn off the precancerous cells) or cryotherapy (freezing off the precancerous cells).
To schedule your Barrett’s esophagus evaluation, call Gateway Gastroenterology or request an appointment online today.