What is Barrett’s Esophagus?
It is a precursor form of esophageal cancer. The reflux of acidic stomach contents causes a change in the lining of the esophagus, called intestinal metaplasia.
The disease can later evolve to dysplasia and finally cancer.
What are the symptoms?
Most patients have heartburn and regurgitation for years, from the reflux of acidic stomach contents. In other cases the disease does not produce symptoms.
When advanced esophageal cancer develops over Barrett’s esophagus, patients have difficulty swallowing or dysphagia, chest pain, fatigue, or loss of appetite and weight.
How is it diagnosed?
It is essential to perform a quality upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (gastroscopy) to detect Barrett’s and study whether there is associated dysplasia or early cancer.
There are advanced imaging techniques that allow the use of contrast and magnification to visualize the esophagus in maximum detail.
It is essential to make an early diagnosis in order to treat the disease when it has not yet spread.
If you are looking for a second opinion about your endoscopic treatment or have been offered a surgical solution, contact us.
How is it treated?
Traditional management consists of gastric acid suppression with medication. In cases of Barrett’s esophagus without dysplasia, periodic endoscopic follow-up is carried out, with biopsies being taken.
When dysplasia has occurred, it is necessary to remove the affected tissue, to prevent degeneration to cancer, using endoscopic ablation techniques (radiofrequency ablation or HALO).
In cases of early esophageal cancer, complete removal of the tumor by endoscopic submucosal dissection is the technique of choice.
If the cancer is at a more advanced stage, complete removal of the esophagus (esophagectomy) and sometimes chemotherapy and radiation therapy are required.
In selected cases, Endos Advanced provides a novel approach consisting of mucosal removal with Barrett’s esophagus before dysplasia appears.