In Barrett's esophagus, also called Barrett's syndrome, the cells that line the inside of the esophagus are replaced by cells like those that line the inside of the stomach. This change in the type of cell may occur with long-term exposure of the esophagus to stomach juices, such as from chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
The new cells are more resistant to stomach acid. But inflammation, sores (ulcers), and bleeding can still occur in that part of the esophagus.
You can treat GERD to control your symptoms and feel better. Having Barrett's esophagus slightly raises the risk for esophageal cancer. If Barrett's esophagus is suspected, a doctor may want to test the lining of the esophagus now and then to check for cells that may develop into cancer. These tests may include endoscopy and doing a biopsy of any cells that do not look normal.
Last Revised: May 7, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine & Peter J. Kahrilas, MD - Gastroenterology
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