Barrett’s Esophagus is an abnormal change in the cells of the lower portion of esophagus. It is also called Barrett’s Syndrome or Columnar Epithelium Lined Lower Oesophagus (CELLO). The condition is named after Norman Barrett (1903-1979) who described the condition in 1950. Barrett’s esophagus is diagnosed when goblet cells found under gastrointestinal cells replace the normal squamous epithelium lining of the esophagus. The biggest risk factor for Esophageal Adenocarcinoma (EAC), a type of cancer, Barrett’s esophagus is living with more than 3 million Americans and is the one of the most rapidly increasing cancers in the United States, according to American Gastroenterological Association (AGA).
After you finish eating, your food passes to your stomach through your throat, also called the food pipe or swallowing tube, through the esophagus. There will be some formation of stomach acid. A ring of muscles keep it from leaking backward into the esophagus once your food is in the stomach. But the stomach acid might leak back into the esophagus if the muscles do not close tightly. This condition is called gastro esophageal reflux. The gastro esophageal reflux causes the symptoms of heartburn and also damages the lining of esophagus. The reflux changes the esophagus cells into cells similar to stomach cells causing Barrett’s esophagus. If a patient gets Barrett’s esophagus and the disease progresses it can turn the cells into dysplasia. The presence of dysplasia indicates a precancerous condition.
Primarily, adaptation of chronic acid exposure from reflux esophagitis causes Barrett’s esophagus. It is caused due to chronic inflammation. The increased risk factors for Barrett’s Esophagus are also described as the difference in distribution of fat among men and women. This kind of disease has been found in 5-15% of patients who seek medical care for heartburn also known as Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) that causes chronic inflammation. In this disease, acidic stomach, bile, small intestine and pancreatic contents cause damage to the cells of the lower esophagus. Among them, 0.5% per patient-year has a higher risk of having esophageal cancer, especially adenocarcinoma. If you have GERD for a longer time then you are more likely to have this condition. This condition occurs more often in men than in women. The current risk factors are male sex, caucasian race and the presence of duodenogastroesophageal reflux disease. Obesity can also play a role and it is recommended to lose weight if one is overweight.