If you ask most people about the connection between Barrett’s esophagus and cancer risk, chances are, they won’t have any idea of what you’re talking about. After all, Barrett’s esophagus is not a well-known condition, so most people probably won’t have any clue about what it is.
But did you know that Barrett’s esophagus is the most common type of chronic gastrointestinal disease?
It’s more common among people with gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD, and affects roughly 5% of those patients. In addition, it can increase a person’s risk of developing esophageal cancer, which is why it is important for people to be aware of this condition.
What is Barrett’s esophagus?
Barrett’s esophagus is a condition wherein the cells that line the esophagus transform into different cells in a process called metaplasia. This occurs when the lining of the esophagus gets damaged, and the normal squamous cell lining of the esophagus is turned into a columnar type, a variant that is normally found in the intestines. These abnormal cells grow in the part where the esophagus is connected to the stomach or the gastroesophageal junction, and can increase a person’s risk for cancer.
Barrett’s esophagus has also no known symptoms. However, you can watch for signs of the conditions it’s associated with like heartburn and acid regurgitation. In fact, the only way to diagnose this condition would be to undergo an endoscopy, so that the doctor can check if there is any abnormal growth in your esophagus.