The cells lining the esophagus differ from those lining the stomach or intestines, mainly because they have different functions. They also have a distinctly different appearance, so it is usually easy for a physician to tell them apart when examining the esophagus and stomach. Normally, there is an area at the end of the esophagus that marks the border between the cells of the esophagus and those of the stomach. Barrett’s esophagus is the abnormal growth of intestinal-type cells above this border, into the esophagus.
The exact cause of Barrett’s is not known, but there is some evidence to suggest a connection between chronic GERD and the cellular changes that take place in Barrett’s esophagus. GERD causes acid from the stomach to reflux up into the esophagus, thereby damaging esophageal tissue. It is possible that the cells of the esophagus mutate into intestinal cells as they heal from stomach acid exposure as a defense mechanism, since intestinal cells generally withstand more acidic environments.
Patients with Barrett’s often have symptoms similar to those with chronic GERD. These symptoms may include heartburn, difficulty swallowing, and epigastric pain. However, many people with Barrett’s may display no symptoms at all.
In time, the Barrett’s cells may develop abnormal changes known as dysplasia (pre-cancerous changes). Over a period of perhaps two to five years, the dysplasia may then progress from low grade to high grade, and finally, to lower esophageal cancer. Barrett’s is one of the leading causes of lower esophageal cancer (adenocarcinoma). However, only about 1-5% of patients with Barrett’s esophagus will develop lower esophageal cancer. If you have a known diagnosis of Barrett’s or have chronic GERD and have not recently seen a physician, it is important to do so.
The diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus requires an upper endoscopy. This is done under sedation, at which time the physician examines the lining of the esophagus and stomach with a thin, lighted, flexible endoscope. Biopsies are performed to check for any mutation of the tissue, including abnormal pre-cancerous or cancerous cells.
There is currently no treatment to reverse Barrett’s esophagus. However, treatment of underlying GERD may slow the progress of the disease and prevent complications. Treatment of GERD often involves acid-suppressing medications. Routine endoscopies are recommended for patients with Barrett’s approximately every year to monitor the condition and make sure lower esophageal cancer does not develop.
Here is a list of just some of the plans we accept, please contact our office if you have any questions.
"I couldn't wait to log onto Yelp to give him a much deserving review. He is fantastic!"
"I'm amazed at how caring and helpful Dr. Treyzon is. It all started with an email inquiry to his receptionist Amie (who is also very kind and quickly replies to email)."
"Dr. Treyzon is one of the absolute best doctors I've ever been to. He's got a great bedside manner, he is intelligent, honest, listens and is an all around great guy."
"Dr. Treyzon is one of the only doctors I've ever met that truly listens to his patients and doesn't give up on figuring out what's wrong."
"Dr. Treyzon is one of the most responsive and thorough doctors I have dealt with. I've seen 5 different gastroenterologists across CA and MA, Dr. Treyzon is the best..."
"Dr. Leo Treyzon is an extremely intelligent, likeable and dilligent doctor. He is always on the cutting edge of the latest treatments and technologies."
"Great doctor. Great crew. Cannot recommend more highly!"
"He is kind, doesn't rush me, listens to my concerns, and is systematic in his diagnoses."
Dr. Treyzon actually spent an incredible amount of time researching my rather arcane issue and then came up with a creative and innovative solution."
"My OB-GYN referred me to Dr. Treyzon, and I have to say, he was absolutely wonderful."