Barrett’s Esophagus

People who have Barrett’s Esophagus have an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer.  Esophageal adenocarcinoma is often associated with individuals who experience Barrett’s Esophagus and heartburn symptoms.   Routine tobacco use, especially chewing tobacco, as well as consistent alcoholic beverage consumption greatly increases another form of esophageal cancer, squamous cell cancer of the esophagus.

Are you at risk?

There are a number of risk factors associated with Barrett’s esophagus.  Age, gender, ethnicity are a factor, and if you have experienced GERD symptoms for longer than 10 years you may have a higher risk.

Regarding age, most individuals that experience Barret’s are in their 60’s when discovering the challenge, although it is noted that their symptoms may have began up to 20 years prior to being properly diagnosed.  Males are up to four times likely to have Barrett’s, and Caucasians are roughly ten times more likely to have it.

Two out of five individuals who have been diagnosed with esophageal adenocarcinoma deny ever having GERD symptoms.  However, if you have weekly heartburn or acid regurgitation, you are sixty-four times more likely to develop esophageal adenocarcinoma in comparison to those who never experience these symptoms.

If you reside in any of these categories and have recently been experiencing difficulty swallowing, have seen blood in your stool, have seemingly lost weight without attempting to do so, we urge you to schedule a consultation at TransSouth Health Care.  If you have experienced persistent symptoms even with therapy, or you have soreness in your chest, it is important that you contact us today to schedule an appointment.

What To Expect

During your visit with TransSouth Health Care, we will begin scheduling a number of tests to be completed at our facility.  First, we will schedule an endoscopy which provides the most accurate examination for Barrett’s esophagus.  During your endoscopy we will collect biopsies of tiny pieces of tissue that align your esophagus, which can provide a strong indication of Barrett’s when examined under our advanced microscope.  We have a fully dedicated, talented team in our state-of-the-art laboratory that examines these biopsies for intestinal metaplasia with goblet cells.  We may also schedule an upper GI barium study in an effort to discover structures that may be troublesome for you to swallow efficiently.

In the event that you are diagnosed with high-grade dysplasia, you have a couple of options depending on the severity.  At the very least, we are going to increase your acid suppression medications and schedule another endoscopy in roughly 90 days.  The next examination will help us determine progress.  We may also recommend having an endoscopic mucosal resection to shave off any bumps or structures while we collect biopsies to ensure there are no cancerous elements.  During this time we may also perform an ultrasound examination for bumps or lymph nodes.

If your diagnosis is moderate or severe, it is very likely that we will schedule an esophagostomy, a major surgery where we remove the esophagus and hook up your stomach to the very top of the remaining swallowing tube.  Esophagostomies are the standard.