Riverside Medical Center is the first in the area to offer an outpatient procedure that may stop esophageal cancer before it starts. Barrett's is a heartburn-related problem that damages the esophagus after repeated exposure to stomach acid. Barrett's sufferers are 125 times more likely to develop cancer of the esophagus. According to a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine, the HALO System was found to be highly effective at removing potentially precancerous cells associated with Barrett's esophagus. People who suffer from heartburn more than twice a week, or who have trouble falling asleep because of it, should have a gastroenterologist examine them as this can lead to Barrett's and potentially turn into cancer.
The HALO System is a highly accurate endoscope-mounted ablation system. The physician directs the ablation catheter to the diseased area of the esophagus. Using a short burst of ablative energy, the physician removes a very thin layer of the diseased esophagus. The procedure takes about 35 to 45 minutes, and is performed without incisions. Patients usually recover quickly with only minimal discomfort such as a sore throat.
Facts about Barrett's Esophagus, GERD and Esophageal Cancer
- In a study published in 2005, Barrett's esophagus was estimated to affect approximately 3.3 million adults in the United States.
- Barrett's esophagus can lead to a dangerous type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma, which has a five-year patient survival rate of approximately 17%.
- The American Cancer Society estimates that during 2009, approximately 16,470 deaths will be caused by esophageal cancer.
- Barrett's esophagus progresses to high-grade dysplasia or cancer at a combined rate of 1.4% per patient per year, with .5% per year developing cancer.
- Barrett's esophagus is common among those who suffer from reflux, called GERD. Approximately 13% of Caucasian men over the age of 50, who have chronic reflux, will develop Barrett's esophagus.
- Patients with Barrett's esophagus have an increased risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma6; 30 to 125 times higher than patients without this condition.