It is estimated that Barrett’s esophagus affects about 700,000 adults in the United States at any given time. While Barrett’s esophagus may cause no symptoms itself, it is a serious condition that is associated with an increased risk of cancer. Accordingly, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends that patients with symptoms of GERD undergo an endoscopy to detect the possible existence of Barrett’s esophagus.
Treatment Options and Follow-up for Barrett’s Esophagus:
- Medical Treatment for Reflux:
- Patients with reflux are often treated with one of a family of prescription medications – called proton pump inhibitors – designed to reduce gastric acid.
- Proton pump inhibitors are considerably stronger than over-the-counter antacids.
- Surgical Treatment for Reflux:
- Patients afflicted with severe reflux disease may be referred for antireflux surgery, e.g., laparoscopic fundoplication.
- Follow-up Endoscopy for Barrett’s Esophagus:
- The American College of Gastroenterology believes that systematic biopsies of the involved esophagus are required to document Barrett’s esophagus and to detect the existence of dysplasia or cancer, if present. The grade of dysplasia, determined by the surgical pathologist, dictates the follow-up interval, as indicated in the following table:
Status of Dysplasia
None1 In two-to-three years Low-grade In six months to one year High-grade (focal) Immediately and every three months thereafter, with biopsy High-grade (extensive) Immediately, with biopsy and intervention2
1 After two negative annual examinations
2 Intervention options include surgery, laser ablation, photodynamic therapy, endoscopic mucosal resection, etc.
Measures You Can Take to Reduce the Symptoms of Gastroesophageal Reflux:
- Avoid large meals within three hours of bedtime.
- Avoid the consumption of caffeine, chocolate, or alcohol
- Elevate the head of your bed.
- Use throat lozenges or chewing gum to stimulate salivation.
- Maintain a high-fiber diet that is low in fat and calories
- Consult your physician for proper diet and nutrition information
Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor:
- Do I have Barrett’s esophagus?
- What is my risk of getting cancer?
- What can I do to take care of myself during and after treatment?
- Will I require any additional monitoring if I take my medication?
Sources of Additional Information:
American College of Gastroenterology : acg.gi.org
American Gastroenterological Association : gastro.org
This Patient Diagnostic Fact Sheet is provided to you as a service by AmeriPath. It is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon your medical history and current condition. Only your physician and you can determine your best treatment options.