Barrett’s diagnosis is done through endoscopy. The procedure of endoscopy is normally recommended for those adults who have already been diagnosed with GERD and are 40 years of age or older. There is a higher probability of the Barett’s esophagus condition occurring in GERD patients.
The process of endoscopy involves inserting a flexible tube, which has a camera and light source at the tip of the tube or endoscope. The flexible tube is inserted via the mouth all the way down to the esophagus to view the condition. During Barrett’s diagnosis, a sample tissue is also taken out from the lining of the esophagus for further investigation and confirmation of the condition.
Endoscopy will reveal an abnormally pink lining of the esophagus instead of the usual white lining. This pink lining can extend for a distance of not more than 2.5 inches from the gastroesophageal junction to the esophagus. The gastroesophageal junction or GE is the place where the esophagus and the stomach are joined.
Once a sample tissue has been taken out during Barrett’s diagnosis, it will undergo microscopic evaluation. If this evaluation shows replacement of the normal tissue or cell lining of the esophagus by a lining that contains intestinal type cells then it will be taken as a confirmation of Barrett’s esophagus condition. The new lining will contain mucus-producing cells also known as goblet cells. In the absence of the intestinal goblet cells, further Barrett’s diagnosis should be ruled out.
Barrett’s Esophagus and Cancer
The primary cause of Barrett’s esophagus is GERD. GERD is known as Gastroesophageal reflux disease and the primary symptom is mucosal damage. The cause of this damage is stomach acid that comes up to the esophagus from the stomach. The most common symptoms of GERD include heartburn, increased salivation, pain with swallowing, regurgitation, and chest pain among others. GERD causes several injuries to the esophagus necrosis of esophageal epithelium, Barrett’s esophagus also called intestinal metaplasia, Esophageal strictures, and Esophageal adenocarcinoma.
A patient who has progressed from GERD to Barrett’s esophagus condition has a much higher risk of developing esophageal cancer. The cancerous cells occur only when it is a case of severe dysplasia.
Dysplasia causes an abnormal change to take place in the cell or tissue lining of the esophagus. This abnormal change can be seen in the appearance as well as structure of the cell or tissue lining. If this abnormal change shifts from low-grade dysplasia to something more severe or high-grade dysplasia then the cells start to look like the more malignant cancer cells. Dysplasia is considered to be premalignant in nature, which means that if a patient has shown symptoms of dysplasia then they might develop cancer in the near future.
Treatment of Barrett’s Esophagus
The treatment of Barrett’s Esophagus when no or low dysplasia is noted revolves around medications that suppress stomach acid production, healthy diet, and a healthy livings style. Besides prescribing the necessary medicines, your doctor may suggest certain lifestyle changes. You should follow all instructions given by your doctor as this will help you manage your disease better.
Barrett’s diagnosis while an unpleasant thing should not cause you a lot of worry as it can be effectively managed easily.