What is it?
Barrett’s Esophagus refers to the hardening of throat tissue, which increases the risk of esophageal cancer. Thus, it is a pre-malignant condition. It is believed that Barrett’s Esophagus is caused by chronic reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus, also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Who's at Risk?
If someone has heartburn that is left untreated, acid reflux from the stomach can cause changes in the cells that line the esophagus. The changed lining is called Barrett’s Esophagus. People who have Barrett’s are at an increased risk of having esophageal cancer.
Most people with Barrett’s have a long-term history of acid reflux and have indigestion or heartburn two or more times per week. Other symptoms may include unexplained, persistent cough; heartburn that prevents a good night’s sleep; and swallowing difficulties. Other people, however, have little heartburn and no other warning signs, even though their internal damage may be quite significant.
Barrett’s is diagnosed by endoscopy with biopsy of the esophageal lining. It cannot be diagnosed by X-ray or through blood tests.