Who Gets Barrett’s Esophagus?

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Who Gets Barrett’s Esophagus?

Who Gets Barrett’s Esophagus?

Barrett’s esophagus is a change in the cells lining your esophagus. Normal esophagus cells are flat (squamous) and do not secrete mucous. Barrett’s esophagus consists of columnar cells that secrete mucous like colon cells. Most patients with Barrett’s esophagus have severe and longstanding GERD. Barrett’s esophagus increases your odds of developing esophageal cancer.

So who gets Barrett’s esophagus?  How do you know when you have it?

You are more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus if you have GERD and you are middle aged or older, white, male, cigarette smoker and obese. Barrett’s Esophagus doesn’t necessarily have “symptoms”.  However, if you frequently experience GERD related symptoms, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.  It is estimated that 1 out of every 10 people who have GERD will be diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus.

At Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center, Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed by an acid reflux specialist using upper endoscopy. Esophagus lining is sampled (biopsies are obtained through the scope) and evaluated under the microscope. Dysplasia is the presence of precancerous cells. High grade dysplasia indicates a high risk for cancer development. Resection of Barrett’s lining with high grade dysplasia is recommended to prevent cancer development.

There are different resection modalities of Barrett’s esophagus with high grade dysplasia. Radiofrequency ablation is the most commonly used. The procedure is done through the mouth using a scope and a special probe that burns off abnormal cells.

If you suffer from frequent heartburn, don’t wait until it is too late. You can prevent Barrett’s esophagus from developing. Contact Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center to learn more about the different ways you can avoid and treat the symptoms of GERD, Barrett’s Esophagus and advanced acid reflux.  You can reach us at 832-945-8717.