What Is the Prognosis for Barrett's Esophagus Disease?


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The prognosis for Barrett's esophagus, a complication of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is good, as few people who develop the disorder contract esophageal cancer, reports WebMD. A number of treatment options target the abnormal tissue that Barrett's esophagus causes. Patients can relieve or prevent symptoms by making nutritional changes and avoiding certain types of drinks and foods, adds the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK.

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GERD is a disorder that causes stomach acid to enter the esophagus, and about 10 percent of patients with GERD develop Barrett's esophagus, which replaces normal esophageal cells with abnormal cells resembling intestinal tissue, explains WebMD. Fewer than 1 percent of patients with Barrett's esophagus develop esophageal cancer. Treatments to remove abnormal tissue include radiofrequency ablation therapy, which uses radio waves to destroy the abnormal cells, and photodynamic therapy, which targets the abnormal cells with lasers. Endoscopic spray therapy freezes the abnormal cells, and endoscopic mucosal resection lifts the abnormal cell lining from the rest of the esophagus. After a diagnosis of cancer, surgery can remove the cancerous tissue.

People with GERD can relieve Barrett's esophagus symptoms by avoiding alcoholic drinks, coffee, chocolate, peppermint and spicy foods, according to NIDDK. They should also limit fatty foods and eat several smaller meals rather than three large meals daily. Lifestyle changes that help prevent Barrett's esophagus include quitting smoking, keeping a healthy weight, elevating the head of the bed, and waiting three hours or more to lie down after meals, advises Mayo Clinic.

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