In an endoscopic resection, an endoscope is inserted down the throat to reach the esophagus. Its light and camera enable the doctor to see and navigate, and it has tools for removal of the affected tissue. Both procedures are far less invasive and less expensive than an esophagectomy, a major surgery that removes the esophagus in patients with advanced conditions.
Approximately 10 percent of patients with long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) will develop Barrett's esophagus. GERD is a chronic regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the lower esophagus, which often results in recurring heartburn and, less commonly, difficulty swallowing. A small percentage of patients with Barrett's esophagus will develop high grade dysplasia, a more serious condition. High grade dysplasia isn't cancer, but it is the step before cancer. The risk of developing esophageal cancer from high grade dysplasia has been examined in several studies and ranges from 20 percent to 50 percent. Overall, patients with Barrett's esophagus have a less than 1 percent risk of developing esophageal cancer over their lifetimes. Esophageal cancer is especially invidious; it has a less than 15 percent five-year survival rate.
Results of the study also show that in as many as one-third of the cases, manifestations of the disease returned. "These findings of recurrence make it clear that Barrett's esophagus patients should undergo life-long periodic endoscopic exams to watch for precancerous esophagus cells. If we find these cells, we can treat them via the endoscope to prevent esophageal cancer," said Ginsberg.
Barrett's esophagus is named after Norman Barrett (1903-1979), who described the condition in 1950.
Other study authors from Penn include Carlos Guarner-Argente, MD, PhD; Thomas Buoncri
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University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine