Barrett's Esophagus: a cause for esophageal cancer

Barrett's Esophagus

Esophageal cancer is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States.

Doctors estimate that nearly 18,000 cases will be present in 2018, with almost 16,000 patients dying from it.

Many cases of this cancer start from condition known as Barrett's Esophagus.

"It happens because of exposure to acid all the time," says Dr. Fadi Rzouq, gastroenterologist at Mercy Medical Center. "And over many years, there will be a lot of dead tissue there, and the body will build a new tissue, and then we will end with Barrett's Esophagus."

There are many risk factors for this condition, with acid re-flux over many years being the biggest one.

It is seen mostly in white males over the age of fifty.

"At the age of fifty, Barrett's Esophagus is all or none, which means if you have it, we will keep an eye on it over the years," says Rzouq. "But if you don't, then it's most likely not going to develop in the future."

Dr. Fadi Rzouq feels the food we eat plays a role in how this condition develops.

"We have more acid exposure nowadays but that cannot explain the trend in this cancer that it's becoming that common," says Rzouq.

To remove the dead tissue, doctors need to perform an endoscopy and either cut away or burn the tissue. But in terms of prevention, Rzouq says, "Unfortunately there is nothing at this point except trying to take the acid medicine when you have significant acid re-flux symptoms."

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