Definition & Symptoms: Barrett's esophagus is a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach), is damaged by stomach acid. The acid leaks from the stomach upward and back into the esophagus, causing a sensation that patients often describe as heartburn that never goes away.
Risk Factors: Risk factors include long term esophageal exposure to gastric acid with a disease called GERD. Over time the chronic acid reflux causes changes to the cells lining the esophagus. This can make you at an increased risk for a cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma. Other risk factors include older age, obesity, being male, and caucasian.
Diagnostics: Barrett’s esophagus is usually diagnosed with a procedure called an upper endoscopy. During this procedure the endoscopist can take tissue samples of the lining of the esophagus and biopsy it to evaluate for cellular changes consistent with Barrett’s esophagus.
Treatment: Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia (or cellular changes) that are concerning for cancer includes cryotherapy and ablation which is performed during an upper endoscopy.