Symptoms of Barrett's Esophagus
In Barrett's esophagus, the cells lining the esophagus change and become similar to the cells lining the intestine. Even though there are no Barrett's esophagus symptoms to speak of, the condition is significant because, in some cases, it seems to precede the development of a particular kind of cancer: esophageal adenocarcinoma.
The risk of developing adenocarcinoma is 30 to 125 times higher in people who have Barrett's esophagus than in people who do not. This type of cancer is increasing rapidly in white men. This increase may be related to the rise in obesity and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Esophageal adenocarcinoma is often not curable, partly because the disease is frequently discovered at a late stage and because treatments are not effective.
Keep in mind, however, that despite this large increase in risk for people who have Barrett's esophagus, the risk of getting esophageal adenocarcinoma is actually small: less than 1 percent (0.4 percent to 0.5 percent) per year.