I wanted to expand on my recent appearance on the morning show of ABC affiliate channel 8 Dallas, TX where I discussed Barrett’s Disease and a relatively new procedure used by Gastroenterologists to treat this disease.  If you suffer from reflux and have questions regarding this disease and treatments, please post a comment at the end of this blog.

Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the US.  It is classified as a type of cancer called adenocarcinoma, which is highly lethal.   The incidence of this type of cancer has increased 700% since the 1970’s.  Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus develops from precancerous tissue, which is known as “Barrett’s” esophagus.  GERD or Reflux is the cause of Barrett’s Disease.  It is estimated that up to 25% of the US population has reflux frequently, and 15% of those will have Barrett’s.   Unfortunately, you don’t always have to be experiencing GERD symptoms to develop Barrett’s.

Barrett’s is a change that occurs in the cellular lining of the esophagus, brought on by GERD or reflux disease.  During this change, the cells convert from normal squamous lining (like we have on our skin) to columnar cells which have a reddish color and velvet like appearance.
The phrase, “If you can’t beat em´, join em´”, sums up the disease.  The esophagus tries to protect itself from repeated acid exposure by becoming more like stomach tissue.  This wouldn’t be a bad thing, except in some people, the cells keep changing until they turn cancerous.
The risk factors for developing Barrett’s include:

  • Age > 50
  • Male
  • Caucasian
  • Chronic GERD
  • Obesity
  • Family History

If you have these risk factors, it is recommended you see your Gastroenterologist to determine if you are at risk for Barrett’s Disease or esophageal cancer.

Fortunately, however, there is a treatment for Barrett’s Disease, called Barrx.  It uses radiofrequency ablation to destroy the bad mucosa, allowing normal tissue grows in its place. It does this by sending a current through electrodes, to a controlled depth; which destroys the Barrett’s mucosa but does not harm the underlying tissue. This procedure is very safe, painless and effective, resulting in complete removal of damaged tissue in over 98% of patients.

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical condition