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What is the best treatment for Barrett's esophagus?

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Quick Answer

The best treatment for Barrett's esophagus depends upon whether cancer or precancerous cells are found in the esophageal tissue, reports WebMD. Changes in diet and lifestyle are used in early treatment, and photodynamic therapy, endoscopic mucosal resection and surgical removal of the esophagus are options if the condition is advanced.

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Full Answer

Because 10 percent of individuals with gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, develop Barrett's esophagus, the first step in treatment is to control the acid reflux, according to WebMD. Dietary changes are implemented to avoid irritants, such as caffeine, spicy and fatty foods, and alcohol. Weight loss is suggested if needed because extra weight increases reflux risk. Elevating the head while sleeping and staying upright for 3 hours after eating are recommended. Proton pump inhibitors, H2 blockers and antacids are often prescribed to decrease and neutralize stomach acid production.

Before photodynamic therapy is performed, the patient ingests a drug that renders the esophageal cells light-sensitive, explains WebMD. A laser is inserted endoscopically to kill the abnormal cells in the esophagus without harming healthy tissue. In endoscopic mucosal resection, the precancerous or cancer cells in the lining are cut away from the wall of the esophagus before being excised through the endoscope. Surgical removal of the majority of the esophagus is used when cancer or severe precancer have been diagnosed. Early surgical intervention increases the prognosis.

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