Barrett’s esophagus is a condition affecting the lining of the esophagus where it joins the stomach. This condition can occur when there is repeated exposure to stomach acid from heartburn or GERD.
GERD or reflux disease allows stomach acid to re-enter the esophagus through a malfunctioning valve. Left untreated, the repeated exposure to acid causes scarring and changes in the lining of your esophagus. While not everyone who develops Barrett’s esophagus develops cancer, there is a type of cancer, adenocarcinoma, that can develop in patients with Barrett’s esophagus.
To diagnose Barrett’s esophagus, your doctor will use an endoscope to take a sample of the esophageal lining for a biopsy. Once the condition develops, heartburn medicines will not reverse the course of the illness. There are some ablation treatments which destroy the tissue and can be used if precancerous cells are found in the area.
To avoid the development of Barrett’s esophagus, don't ignore or “self-treat” frequent heartburn. Make an appointment with a physician at Asheville Gastroenterology Associates and discuss your heartburn.