When you’ve been a long time sufferer of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may have an increased risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that increases your risk of esophageal cancer. At Hawaii Gastroenterology Specialists, the team of highly trained physicians understands this rare condition and offers diagnosis and treatment, and can even help you prevent recurrence. If you live in or near Honolulu or Aiea, Hawaii, seek the care of the board-certified gastroenterologists. Call the office today or use the online scheduling tool to book your initial consultation.
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that develops in some people with a long history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). With Barrett’s esophagus, the tissue at the end of your esophagus, where it meets your stomach, is replaced by tissue like your intestinal lining.
While those with this condition suffer no more symptoms than they did with GERD alone, the changes that occur in their esophagus puts them at a higher risk for developing esophageal cancer and dysplasia (precancerous cells).
Barrett’s esophagus affects approximately 10% of patients with long-standing GERD. When you have GERD, digestive acids from your stomach pass into your esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation, as well as damage to the esophagus tissue.
As your esophagus heals, cellular changes can occur, leading to Barrett’s esophagus. What causes one person with GERD to develop the condition and another one not to is currently unknown.
The course of Barrett’s esophagus treatment your doctor recommends depends on the severity of your condition. If no abnormal cell growth is found, your gastroenterologist may recommend a future upper endoscopy to monitor the disease, as well as continuing treatment for your GERD.
If you have low-grade dysplasia, your doctor may recommend removing the damaged cells through endoscopic resection or destroying them through radiofrequency ablation. Your doctor may recommend another upper endoscopy in 3-6 months.
When high-grade dysplasia is present, it’s often considered a precursor to esophageal cancer. Your gastroenterologist may recommend:
Barrett’s esophagus can recur after treatment. Follow-up testing is recommended, and your gastroenterologist may prescribe acid-reducing medication to help your esophagus heal. For both low-grade and high-grade dysplasia, your doctor may suggest an ablation technique.
There are two primary ablation techniques used to treat Barrett’s esophagus: photodynamic therapy and radiofrequency ablation. In both cases, the abnormal cells are destroyed and the esophagus tissue begins to heal with healthy, normal cells.
In photodynamic therapy, your doctor uses light-activated chemicals and laser light to destroy your abnormal cell growth, while radiofrequency uses radio waves to heat and eradicate the precancerous growths.
If you have GERD and struggle to manage your acid reflux, don’t let your risk for esophageal cancer increase. With regular monitoring and preventive care, you can stop its development. Call Hawaii Gastroenterology Specialists today to schedule your initial consultation or use the online booking tool.