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It's Only Heartburn...or is it? Chronic Heartburn a Risk Factor for Precursor to Esophageal Cancer

PARAMUS, N.J., Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If you have or have ever had chronic heartburn, you may be at risk for Barrett's esophagus, a serious complication of chronic, severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Barrett's esophagus has been recognized as a major risk factor for developing cancer of the esophagus, the seventh deadliest cancer in men in the United States.

Barrett's esophagus is marked by cellular changes in the lining of the esophagus, which can progress to low-grade, and then high-grade dysplasia -- a level that is highly pre-malignant. These abnormal cellular changes can lead to a type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma, the fastest rising malignancy in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The Valley Hospital's Center for Barrett's Esophagus and GERD provides cutting-edge diagnostic, treatment, management, and research services for these related conditions. The Center is one of the most comprehensive on the East Coast and unique to northern New Jersey. The physician team includes board-certified gastroenterologists and thoracic surgeons.

Diagnostic and treatment methods available at the Center include endoscopy, medications to reduce acid, minimally invasive surgical procedures to repair hiatal hernias and to prevent acid reflux, radiofrequency ablation to destroy abnormal cells, endoscopic mucosal resection to remove nodules within Barrett's esophagus, and esophageal cancer surgery.

Robert J. Korst, M.D., Medical Director of The Valley Hospital's Daniel and Gloria Blumenthal Cancer Center, and Director of Thoracic Surgery, says he and physicians at the Center for Barrett's Esophagus and GERD must take a two-prong approach to treating Barrett's esophagus that both destroys the abnormal lining and stops acid reflux.

"Radiofrequency ablation can get rid of the lining, but if the GERD is not controlled, those abnormal cells can grow back and put the patient at risk for cancer once again," he adds.

If Barrett's esophagus progresses into high-grade dysplasia or cancer, the entire esophagus must be removed. Dr. Korst specializes in the treatment and research of esophageal cancer and is highly experienced in using both laparoscopic and traditional surgical methods to remove the esophagus and construct a new one by stretching the stomach.

Barrett's esophagus is most prevalent in middle-aged and elderly Caucasian men but can affect anyone, even those who do not have obvious symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease. To learn more about Barrett's esophagus or to schedule an appointment for an evaluation, call The Valley Hospital Center for Barrett's Esophagus and GERD at 201-634-5789

SOURCE The Valley Hospital
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