Treatment for Barrett's Esophagus
There are several ways to treat Barrett's esophagus, including GERD medication, surveillance, and surgery. A particularly important part of the treatment process is to screen for early warning signs of esophageal cancer. Surgery is generally performed only if the patient is found to have dysplasia or cancer, is strong enough to have an operation, and has a good chance of being cured.
Barrett's esophagus is a condition in which the esophagus forms new types of cells on its surface that are similar-looking to those in the intestines. It causes no symptoms, but occasionally it turns into a rare but deadly form of esophageal cancer. There is also no cure for Barrett's esophagus, short of surgical removal of the esophagus (a serious operation not usually recommended except in people with a high risk for developing esophageal cancer or who already have it).
Given all the factors, doctors and scientists are still trying to find out the best treatment for Barrett's esophagus. The treatment recommended will depend in part on what is found during routine biopsies of the esophagus.
Some treatment options for Barrett's esophagus may include:
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder) medication or other GERD treatments
Several experimental approaches are also being studied. One study attempts to see whether destroying the Barrett's tissue by heat or other means through an endoscope can eliminate the condition. However, this approach has potential risks, and its effectiveness is unknown.
Treating Barrett's Like GERD
When treating Barrett's esophagus, most physicians recommend treating it like GERD. This involves the use of GERD medicine that decreases acid production in the stomach and gives the esophagus a chance to heal. This is sometimes associated with improvement in the extent of the Barrett's tissue. However, this approach has not been proven to reduce the risk of esophageal cancer.
Treating reflux with a GERD surgery does not seem to cure Barrett's esophagus.