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  • Writer's pictureGaurav Arora, MD

What's Barrett's Esophagus and Can I get It?

Barrett's esophagus is a condition where the lining of the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach, changes and becomes abnormal. This can happen because of acid reflux, which is when stomach acid goes back up into the esophagus.

There are some risk factors that can make a person more likely to get Barrett's esophagus. Some examples of risk factors include:

  • Being male

  • Being over 50 years old

  • Having acid reflux for a long time

  • Being overweight

  • Having family history of Barrett's esophagus or cancer of the esophagus

  • Smoking or tobacco use

If you have multiple risk factors, ask your doctor whether you need to be screened for Barrett's esophagus. Screening is done via an upper endoscopy, a procedure where a thin tube with a camera is passed from the mouth into the esophagus to check the lining and obtain samples, if needed. This procedure is done under anesthesia and is a simple procedure with minimal risk of complications.

If a person has Barrett's esophagus, it's important for them to see a doctor for regular check-ups. This is because Barrett's esophagus can sometimes turn into cancer. But with regular check-ups, a doctor can catch any changes early and treat them before they turn into cancer.

One way to treat Barrett's esophagus is with a treatment called radiofrequency ablation. This is a way to destroy the abnormal cells in the esophagus without having to do surgery. A doctor will use a special tool to send heat to the abnormal cells. This will make the cells die, and then new, healthy cells will grow in their place.

It's important to remember that Barrett's esophagus is a serious condition and should be treated by a doctor. But with the help of treatments like radiofrequency ablation, people with Barrett's esophagus can manage their condition and lower their risk of cancer.

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