Barrett's Esophagus & Esophagus Cancer

Barrett’s esophagus is a condition in which mucosal cells in the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus) is replaced by cells similar to the cells in intestinal lining. The normal cells in the esophagus are stratified squamous epithelium, they are replaced by simple columnar epithelium with interspersed goblet cells, which normally are present only in the colon.

Barrett’s esophagus is associated with an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. Doctors make regular checkups on Barrett’s esophagus so as to find the precancerous cells and treat the dysplasia.

Dysplasia is a change in the cells in which the cells appear like cancer cells, except that these cells remain in place and don’t invade tissues outside of the lining. There’re various grade of dysplasia:

  • No dysplasia, if Barrett’s esophagus is present but no precancerous changes are found in the cells.
  • Low-grade dysplasia, if cells show small signs of precancerous changes.
  • High-grade dysplasia, if cells show many changes. High-grade dysplasia is thought to be the final step before cells change into esophageal cancer.

High grade dysplasia (HGD) significantly increases a person’s risk for esophageal cancer and in most cases will progress to cancer if not treated. When someone is diagnosed with high grade dysplasia, an intervention is advised including endoscopic resection and Barrx ablation or in some cases an esophagectomy is recommended for treatment.

Barrett’s esophagus is often diagnosed in people who have long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Common symptoms include:

  • Frequent heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing food
  • Less commonly, chest pain

Endoscopy is generally used in diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus.



* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.