Barrett’s esophagus is a change in the normal lining of the esophagus due to chronic stomach acid exposure that can lead to esophageal cancer.
Who is at Risk?
Patients with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) are at an increased risk for developing Barrett’s esophagus. With more than 15 million Americans suffering from it each day, heartburn, or acid indigestion, is the most common symptom of GERD. GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter spontaneously opens or does not close properly after use, allowing stomach contents to rise into the esophagus causing heartburn or irritation.
The Connection Between Barrett’s Esophagus and Cancer
Dysplasia occurs as a series of cell changes as Barrett’s esophagus progresses to Barrett’s-associated cancer. Dysplasia is considered a precancerous condition and should be monitored very closely and treated to ensure the cells do not become cancerous. Dysplastic cells are very similar to cancer cells but have not yet acquired the ability to invade into tissue or metastasize.
Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States. It results when abnormal cells metastasize and penetrate the esophageal tissue. Esophageal cancer is usually not curable and once diagnosed just 17% of patients live for five or more years.Find a Doctor