BARRETT’S FAQ REFLUX TESTING AND TREATMENT

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Barrett’s esophagus.

Barrett’s Frequently Asked Questions (.pdf)
Download a print-friendly version of our frequently asked questions. If your question isn't answered, reach out to your physician.


WHAT IS BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS?

Barrett’s esophagus is a precancerous disease that affects the lining of the esophagus. It occurs when stomach acids and enzymes leak back into the esophagus over time and cause the cells to change. This transformation is also known as intestinal metaplasia.1

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS? 

Barrett’s esophagus is estimated to affect approximately 12.5 million adults in the United States.2

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

There are no symptoms specific to Barrett’s esophagus, other than the typical symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (or GERD). These include heartburn, chest pain, and regurgitation.1

Man explains symptoms to doctor.

WHO IS AT RISK?

Patients with GERD are at an increased risk for developing Barrett’s esophagus.Caucasian males over the age of 50 with chronic reflux symptoms or heartburn have a higher risk for the disease.4 Receiving a diagnosis at a young age or having a family history of Barrett’s esophagus also contribute to one’s risk.5-10 Being overweight and obese (body mass index 25-30) nearly doubles a person's risk of developing cancer of the esophagus.4,5

ASSESS YOUR RISK

Risk Assessment Tool (.pdf)
Use this resource to assess your risk for developing Barrett's esophagus. Discuss the results with a gastroenterologist — so together you can take the first step towards treatment.


HOW IS BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS DIAGNOSED?

Barrett’s esophagus cannot be diagnosed by symptoms.2 A diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus is dependent on an upper endoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist. This procedure enables the doctor to directly visualize the esophagus and take tissue samples.

ARE TREATMENT OPTIONS AVAILABLE?

Yes, treatment with the Barrx™ radiofrequency ablation system has been shown to reduce disease progression by removing precancerous tissue from the esophagus.7,11,12,13

Barrett’s esophagus patients treated with radiofrequency ablation are less likely to progress to esophageal cancer compared to patients who undergo surveillance.7,12 The Barrx radiofrequency ablation system can reduce the relative risk of disease progression to cancer by up to 94 percent.11,12,16,17


WHAT HAPPENS IF BARRETT’S ESOPHAGUS GOES UNTREATED?

Patients with Barrett’s esophagus have up to 60x higher risk of developing esophageal cancer (EAC).14 Eighty-two percent of people with EAC will die within five years of diagnosis.15 Patients with dysplasia, family history of esophageal cancer, obesity, smoking, and who are diagnosed at a young age have an increased risk that Barrett’s esophagus will progress to cancer.4-10 Barrett’s esophagus patients with any of the preceding risk factors should speak to their physician about the most effective treatment to reduce their risk.

Infographic depicting the risk of esophageal cancer in Barrett's esophagus patients.

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Information and resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. Always discuss diagnosis and treatment information including risks with your doctor. Keep in mind that all treatment and outcome results are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary.


1

Spechler SJ. Barrett’s esophagus. N Engl J Med. 2002;346(11):836-42.

2

Dymedex Market Development Consulting, Strategic Market Assessment, Barrx, October 30, 2014. References 1, 4,5, 10, 11, 13, 20, 23, 25, 27, 28, 54-57, 80, 87, and 97 from the full citation list, access at http://www.medtronic.com/giclaims.

3

Vaezi M, Zehrai A, Yuksel E, Testing for refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease, ASGE Leading Edge, 2012 Vol 2, No 2, 1-13, American Society Gastroenterology Endoscopy, Page 1

4

Spechler SJ, Souza RF. Barrett’s Esophagus. N Engl J Med. 2014;371(9):836-45.

5

Turati F, Tramacere I, La Vecchia C, Negri E. A meta-analysis of body mass index and esophageal and gastric cardia adenocarcinoma. Ann Oncol. 2013;24(3):609-17.

6

Evans JA, Early DS, Fukami N, et al. The role of endoscopy in Barrett’s esophagus and other premalignant conditions of the esophagus. Gastrointest Endosc. 2012;27(6):1087-94

7

Shaheen NJ, Sharma P, Overholt BF, et al. Radiofrequency ablation in Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(22):2277-88.

8

Chak A, Lee T, Kinnard MF, et al. Familial aggregation of Barrett’s oesophagus, oesophageal adenocarcinoma, and oesophagogastric junctional adenocarcinoma in Caucasian adults. GUT. 2002;51(3):323-8.

9

Anaparthy R, Gaddam S, Kanakadandi V, et al. Association Between Length of Barrett’s Esophagus and Risk of High- Grade Dysplasia or Adenocarcinoma in Patients Without Dysplasia. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;11(11):1430-6.

10

Coleman HG, Bhat S, Murray LJ, McManus D, Gavin AT, Johnston BT. Increasing incidence of Barrett’s oesophagus: a population-based study. Eur J Epidem. 2011;26(9):739-45.

11

Wolf WA, Pasricha S, Cotton C, et al. Incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma and causes of mortality after radiofrequency ablation of Barrett’s esophagus. Gastroenterology. 2015;149:1752-61.

12

Phoa KN, van Vilsteren FG, Pouw R E, Weusten BL, et al. Radiofrequency ablation vs endoscopic surveillance for patients with Barrett esophagus and low-grade dysplasia: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2014 Mar 26;311(12):1209-17.

13

 Fleischer DE, Odze R, Overholt BF et al. The case for endoscopic treatment of non-dysplastic and low-grade dysplastic Barrett’s esophagus. Dig Dis Sci. 2010;55(7):1918-31

14

Gilbert EW, Luna RA, Harrison VL, Hunter JG. Barrett’s esophagus: a review of the literature. J Gastrointest Surg. 2011;15:708-1.

15

SEER Cancer Statistics Factsheets: Esophageal Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/esoph.html.

16

Orman ES, Li N, Shaheen NJ. Efficacy and durability of radiofrequency ablation for Barrett’s esophagus: systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013;11:1245-55

17

Shaheen NJ, Sharma P, et al. Radiofrequency ablation in Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia. N Engl J Med. 2009 May 28;360(22):2277-2288