Barrett’s Esophagus – Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments and Precursors

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Barrett’s esophagus is a condition that affects the lining of the esophagus. Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments, and Precursors are included in this article. The disease is not usually life-threatening, but treatment options may be limited or nonexistent.

Symptoms

Barrett’s esophagus is a severe condition that causes a person to have difficulty swallowing. This condition can also lead to weight loss and difficulty breathing. It is treatable with endoscopic procedures. However, patients are at a high risk of esophageal cancer, and gastroenterologists closely monitor patients with Barrett’s esophagus. The best way to manage this condition is to get an early diagnosis.

A gastroenterologist will most likely perform an upper endoscopy using a flexible tube with a camera at the tip. This test is done to analyze the lining of the esophagus for abnormalities. The gastroenterologist will likely also take a tissue sample, which an endomicroscopy will analyze.

There are several symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus, including pain and discomfort. However, these symptoms may also be caused by other health issues. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is essential to get an exam to find out whether you have Barrett’s esophagus.

Diagnosis

The most reliable way to diagnose Barrett’s esophagus is through upper endoscopy, a procedure in which a tiny camera and light are inserted into the esophagus to see the inner lining. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment options include biopsy and radiofrequency ablation. Radiofrequency ablation removes the diseased tissue while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

Diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus usually begins with endoscopy to rule out other conditions, such as dysplasia. Then, a biopsy will determine the severity of Barrett’s esophageal changes. While Barrett’s esophagus is a relatively uncommon condition, it is associated with a higher risk of esophageal cancer.

The condition is most common in middle-aged and elderly people but can affect children as young as five. Men are more likely to have the condition than women. It is less common in African-American and Hispanic populations. Obesity is also a risk factor for Barrett’s esophagus, especially when the patient has sizeable abdominal fat.

Treatments

Treatments for Barrett’s esophageal disease vary and depend on the condition’s underlying cause. Most treatment options revolve around acid blockers, which help with the symptoms of GERD. Some people may not need treatment or may even have the condition go away. For others, however, surgery may be needed. In severe cases, a surgeon may use a radiofrequency ablation method to destroy the abnormal tissue performed during an upper endoscopy.

Patients with high-grade dysplasia should see a surgical specialist. However, surgery is a last resort and may not be a good option for patients with other health conditions. Endoscopic eradication therapies are less invasive and often have fewer complications.

Advanced imaging techniques are also available for patients with Barrett’s esophagus. Advanced endoscopy allows a physician to evaluate the cells in the esophagus lining and the small intestine’s upper part. This can also allow for targeted biopsies of abnormal tissue. An experienced team of gastroenterologists, surgeons, nurses, and nutritional experts can work together to provide the best care for Barrett’s esophageal disease patients.

Precursors to esophageal cancer

A new paper published in the journal Nature describes the cells that form the precursors of esophageal cancer and Barrett’s esophagus. The researchers studied mice and human tissue and found that the tumor-forming cells are derived from a group of cells found in the gastroesophageal junction. These cells are a type of stem cell capable of differentiating into specific cell types.

Patients with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease are at high risk for developing Barrett’s esophagus. Symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus are typically not noticeable until cancer has spread to the esophagus. This condition is a precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma and is associated with a low five-year survival rate.

Although there is no definitive test for detecting Barrett’s esophagus, screening for the disease is still needed. As a result, it is imperative to understand the underlying causes and identify patients who have a high risk.

 

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