What is Barrett’s oesophagus?
Do you suffer from heartburn? It could be more serious than you think.
Why not have it checked out for peace of mind? It’s quite simple to find out and delays could lead to cancer.
Barrett’s oesophagus – often known just as Barrett’s (because it was discovered by a doctor called Barrett!) – is a condition that affects some people who have severe heartburn, or reflux of acid and bile, for a long time. The oesophagus is lined with tissue similar to skin, which if exposed to acid and bile from the stomach naturally becomes inflamed. If this happens over many years, these cells may start to change. This is the called Barrett’s oesophagus. It occurs in around 5-10% of patents who have heartburn. Barrett’s carries a lifetime cancer risk of around 10%.
One in 10 people in the UK with a history of heartburn are estimated to have Barrett’s oesophagus. In a very few people the “Barrett’s oesophagus” may develop into cancer. Before cancer occurs cells develop a milder condition known as “dysplasia”, which is easy to treat. That is why people with Barrett’s oesophagus are urged to have regular check-ups.
What you should know about heartburn and Barrett’s oesophagus?
Most people have experienced heartburn occasionally. You will probably know what has triggered it – perhaps a rich meal eaten late in the evening. Usually it can be quickly relieved by over-the counter medicines or by taking various steps yourself. However, people who have persistent heartburn should not ignore it.
Sometimes it can lead to more serious complications. This site gives more information on what you can do to avoid heartburn attacks or lessen them, and when to consult your doctor if you have frequent and persistent attacks which might lead to Barrett’s oesophagus.