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Barrett' esophagus is the result of prolonged gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) where the tissue at the lower end of the esophagus becomes chronically inflamed and changes cell type. This change in cell type or metaplasia can lead to cancer. Development of cancer is slow and usually presents as difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and weight loss. The risk of developing Barrett's esophagus is increased by presence of a hiatus hernia, and poor lower esophageal sphincter tone, which is influenced by overconsumption of coffee, alcohol and other stomach irritants. Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer is diagnosed by gastroscopy, where the esophagus is visualised using a long camera and samples (biopsies) of the tissue can also be taken. Scientists are currently using their knowledge to identify those people at most risk of Barrett's esophagus and provide therapy early on to prevent it from evolving into cancer.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by Medscape
About: Better understanding of Barrett's esophagus
Date: 31 May 2005
Author: Prateek Sharma
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