If you're concerned about GERD or Barrett's Esophagus, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Berookim at The Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California by calling 310-271-1122.
Beverly Hills, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/22/2013 -- Barrett’s esophagus, a complication experienced by 10 to 15 percent of individuals s uffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), consists of changes in the normal tissue lining of the esophagus due to continuous exposure to stomach acid. The changes to the esophageal tissue, although not evident with any specific symptoms, increase the risk of patients developing a potentially fatal cancer of the esophagus, called esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Fewer than 1 percent of people with Barrett’s esophagus will develop esophageal adenocarcinoma, but the increased risk (50 to 80 times higher risk of cancer than the general population) makes it important for anyone diagnosed with Barrett’s to have routine esophageal examinations. Early stages of esophageal cancer can be silent or asymptomatic, and it is often diagnosed in late stages, making survival rates frighteningly low. Routine examinations for those with Barrett’s can help to discover precancerous and cancer cells in the esophageal lining before they can metastasize, making the disease easier to treat successfully.
Many patients who have Barrett’s disease do not notice specific symptoms. Some may develop difficulty in swallowing food, chest pain, and/or pain in the upper abdomen. Because Barrett’s is a complication of GERD, many patients attribute these symptoms to the reflux itself, and do not realize they have Barrett’s esophagus as well. Patients who experience these symptoms, or who have a number of risk factors for developing Barrett’s (smokers, chronic heartburn sufferers, those with a family history of esophageal cancer, and older Caucasian males) should ask their doctor to perform an upper endoscopy to examine the esophageal tissues for signs of change.
Until recently, there have been few treatments available for Barrett’s esophagus. Patients with the disease have traditionally been told to “wait and see,” as their doctors monitored the condition. But recent technological advances have brought about a revolutionary therapy to patients suffering from Barrett’s disease. This therapy is called endoscopic radiofrequency ablation therapy, and can prevent Barrett’s patients from developing cancerous cells. The process of radiofrequency ablation therapy takes approximately 30 minutes, and has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment. While the patient is sedated, radiofrequency energy is broadcast to the diseased tissue via a catheter inserted into the esophagus. Once the unhealthy tissue is eliminated, healthy tissue can grow back in its place.
While ablation therapy itself is not entirely new, a new system called HALO gives doctors improved control and precision in targeting cancerous and precancerous cells. The targeting technology of the HALO system makes it easier for physicians to destroy unhealthy esophageal tissues without injuring any of the healthy tissues in the same area. Two months after the initial procedure, doctors can perform an upper endoscopy to check for any residual Barrett’s esophagus tissue, and if any is found the residual tissue can be treated with a focal radiofrequency ablation device. In clinical trials, two to three radiofrequency ablation treatments with this HALO technology have completely eradicated Barrett’s esophagus in more than 80 percent of patients.
Contact Dr. Berookim
Because early stages of esophageal cancer can be silent or asymptomatic, it is often diagnosed in the later stages where the survival rate is very low. Thus, it is important to be evaluated early in order to avoid this preventable cancer. If you're concerned about GERD or Barrett's Esophagus, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Berookim at The Gastroenterology Institute of Southern California by calling 310-271-1122.