Barrett’s esophagus is a difficulty of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), mostly in white men. In Barrett’s esophagus, usual tissue lining the esophagus — the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach — changes to tissue that resembles the lining of the intestine. About 10% of people with chronic symptoms of GERD develop Barrett’s esophagus.
Causes of Barrett’s Esophagus
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes Barrett’s esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube that is placed in the chest and serves to shift food from the mouth to the stomach. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a valve that is placed at the joint of the stomach with the esophagus. Its purpose is to prevent acid and other contents of the stomach from coming back into the esophagus. GERD is a situation in which too much acid-containing fluid refluxes (flows) back into the esophagus, in part because the lower esophageal sphincter is weak.
Treatments of Barrett’s Esophagus
One of the major goals of treatment is to stop or slow the development of Barrett’s esophagus by treating and controlling acid reflux. This is done with routine changes and medication. Routine changes include taking steps such as:
- Make changes in diet. Fatty foods, chocolate, caffeine and peppermint can exaggerate reflux.
- Evade alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and tobacco.
- Lose weight. Being overweight increases risk for reflux.
- Sleep with the head of the bed elevated.
- Don’t lie down for 3 hours after eating.
- Take all medicines with ample of water.
There are some treatments, including surgery, that are intended specially to focus on the abnormal tissue. They include:
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses radio waves delivered through an endoscope inserted into the esophagus to obliterate abnormal cells while defending the healthy cells underneath.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a laser through an endoscope to kill abnormal cells in the lining without damaging regular tissue. Before the procedure, the patient takes a drug known as Photofrin, which causes cells to become light-sensitive.
Endoscopic spray cryotherapy is a newer technique that applies cold nitrogen or carbon dioxide gas, through the endoscope to freeze the abnormal cells.
Although the danger of this cancer is higher in people with Barrett’s esophagus, the disease is still rare. Less than 1% of people with Barrett’s esophagus develop this particular cancer. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, it’s significant to have regular examinations of your esophagus. With regular examination, your doctor can discover precancerous and cancer cells early, before they spread and when the disease is easier to treat.