Barrett’s Esophagus is typically the result of repeated exposure to stomach acid. It’s most often diagnosed in people with GERD. Frequent heartburn and chest pain are symptoms, however, many people with Barrett’s Esophagus have no symptoms.
It’s important to diagnose Barrett’s Esophagus because patients have a small increased risk of developing esophageal cancer if they have Barrett’s Esophagus. Barrett’s Esophagus and heartburn symptoms are related to a specific type of esophageal cancer called “esophageal adenocarcinoma.” While only 1 percent of Barrett’s patients ever develop more advanced lining changes or cancer that is 30-60x more often than the general population.
Barrett’s Esophagus Risk Factors:
- Age, 50+
- Caucasian ethnicity
- Prolonged GERD
- Symptoms (>5 years)
- A family history of BE and/or adenocarcinoma of the esophagus
- Nocturnal reflux symptoms
- Hiatal hernia
- Increased body mass index (BMI>35)
- Tobacco use
- Intra-abdominal distribution of fat
You should see one of our physicians if you have the Barrett’s Esophagus risk factors. If you have symptoms such as trouble swallowing, losing weight without trying, blood in your stool, persistent symptoms despite medical therapy, or new chest pain, you should discuss your symptoms with one of our board certified physicians and have an endoscopic examination.
Greater Boston GI, at all of its facilities, offers a new technology that allows better and more accurate detection and staging of Barrett’s called the WATS3D assay.