Do you suffer from GERD? Los Angeles area patients with symptoms or a diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease should know that they are also at increased risk for a condition called Barrett’s Esophagus—a precursor to esophageal cancer. Here’s more information about how GERD and Barrett’s esophagus are connected and how you can be screened to protect your health.
Common GERD Symptoms
When a patient has acid reflux, stomach acid flows up into the food pipe (esophagus). This flood of acid is what causes the typical GERD symptoms such as:
- Burning in the throat or sensation that there is a lump there
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- An acidic taste in the mouth from regurgitated stomach acid or food
- Hoarseness or dry cough
How GERD Affects the Esophagus
Stomach acid has a harmful effect on the lining of the esophagus. Over time, it causes changes in the epithelial cells which can become dysplastic (precancerous). Oddly, they actually become similar to the cells that line the intestines. This condition is what is referred to as Barrett’s esophagus. Patients with Barrett’s esophagus may have more than 100 times the risk of developing cancer of the esophagus (adenocarcinoma) compared to the rest of the population. This cancer is the seventh leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
Minimal Symptoms Can Still Be a Warning Sign
Even when GERD symptoms are being managed, the risk for Barrett’s may remain high. In addition, Barrett’s esophagus may actually reduce the sensation of heartburn. In one Canadian study, researchers found that patients with less severe GERD symptoms can be at the highest risk for Barrett’s. These patients had more acid exposure in their esophagus for longer periods of time. The changes to their esophageal lining appeared to help minimize the painful symptoms (since intestinal cells are designed to handle more acid exposure). However, such cellular changes make these patients more vulnerable to developing esophageal cancer. Learn more about GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus Los Angeles now.
How Can You Be Screened for Barrett’s Esophagus?
An EGD, a procedure used to check for signs of damage from acid reflux, can be used to diagnose Barrett’s esophagus. Beverly Hills gastroenterologist Dr. Peyton Berookim offers this procedure as part of his esophageal cancer prevention program. Biopsy can be done at the same time to collect a small tissue sample for microscopic examination. Dr. Berookim can also use a new innovative tool called the “EsoPill” as a quick, non-invasive way to check visually for changes in the appearance of the esophageal lining. This pill is simply a tiny capsule containing a video camera. When swallowed, it takes thousands of pictures of the inside of the esophagus. Learn more about GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus Los Angeles.
In addition to screening for Barrett’s and esophageal cancer, Dr. Berookim treats the full range of GERD symptoms to help patients find lasting relief. GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus Los Angeles.
GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus Los Angeles
Want to learn more about GERD and Barrett’s esophagus Los Angeles? Hollywood, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and other LA area patients can call 310-271-1122 for more information.