Barrett esophagus is a condition in which the lining of the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach, is damaged by stomach acid. The damaged tissue resembles the lining of the stomach.
Barrett's esophagus does not have any specific symptoms, although patients with Barrett's esophagus may have symptoms related to GERD. About 10 percent of people with chronic symptoms of GERD
develop Barrett's esophagus. People with Barrett’s esophagus have an increased risk for cancer in the area involved. However, cancer is not common.
Barrett’s esophagus is more likely to occur in patients who either experienced GERD first at a young age or have had a longer duration of symptoms. The frequency or severity of GERD does not affect the likelihood of Barrett’s forming. Dysplasia, a pre-cancerous change in the tissue, can develop in any Barrett’s tissue.
The most accurate way to diagnose it is by performing a biopsy of the area. To do this, your doctor will perform an upper endoscopy. Barrett’s tissue has a different appearance than the normal lining of the esophagus and is visible during endoscopy. Although this examination is accurate, your doctor will take tissue samples (biopsy) from the esophagus to confirm the diagnosis as well as look for the pre-cancerous change of dysplasia. Taking these samples only slightly lengthens the procedure time, causes no discomfort and rarely causes complications. Your doctor can usually tell you the results of your endoscopy after the procedure, but you will have to wait a few days for the biopsy results.
Treatment options for Barrett's esophagus include repeated surveillance endoscopy, endoscopic ablative therapies, endoscopic mucosal resection and surgery.