Barrett’s esophagus is a chronic disorder in which the normal tissue that lines the esophagus is replaced with tissue that resembles the lining of the intestines. This is a serious condition that may not necessarily produce immediate symptoms, but significantly raise one’s risk of developing esophageal cancer. Many people with Barrett’s esophagus in St. Petersburg are unaware of the condition. However, because the condition most often develops in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), anyone with frequent and long-standing symptoms of acid reflux may be at risk.
|No one knows exactly how many people in St. Petersburg have Barrett’s esophagus, as the disease often goes undiagnosed. However, the National Institutes of Health reports that it is estimated to affect between 1.6 and 6.8 percent of the entire population. Though the disease can occur to anyone at any age, the average age of a person at diagnosis is 55. Barrett’s esophagus is most prevalent in mean – specifically Caucasian men – occurring at a rate twice that of women.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus?
Barrett’s esophagus does not cause symptoms in most people. However, GERD can cause frequent heartburn, chest pain and difficulty swallowing. People with the symptoms of acid reflux – especially those with symptoms that have persisted for many years – should talk with their St. Petersburg gastroenterologist about being screened for Barrett’s esophagus.
How will my St. Petersburg gastroenterologist diagnose Barrett’s esophagus?
A GI doctor typically diagnoses Barrett’s esophagus using a diagnostic test called an endoscopy. During this procedure, a lighted camera is inserted into the esophagus, allowing the doctor to check for tissue changes. Normal esophageal tissue is pale and glossy, whereas Barrett’s esophagus causes the tissue to appear red and matted. If necessary, your doctor can take a biopsy during the endoscopy to confirm a diagnosis.
What types of Barrett’s esophagus treatments are available in St. Petersburg?
If you are diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, treatments may be available depending on the extent of the condition. For example, if only mild tissue changes are detected, your doctor may decide to take steps to manage GERD symptoms and monitor esophageal tissue changes with periodic endoscopies. Patients with more advanced tissue changes may require greater medical interventions, such as cryotherapy or photodynamic to damage abnormal cells in the esophagus. In some cases, an esophageal resection or radiofrequency ablation may be necessary to remove damaged tissue.