Northern GI Endoscopy

Five Irongate Center
Glens Falls, NY 12801
(518) 793-5034
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135 North Road
Wilton, NY 12866
(518) 793-5034
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 Home / Common Problems / Heartburn/Reflux/Barrett’s Esophagus

Heartburn/Reflux/Barrett’s Esophagus

Do You Have Heartburn?
Did You Know That
Acid Reflux Can Lead to Cancer?

Living with chronic heartburn caused by acid reflux can be a great annoyance. What most people don’t know is that reflux, even “silent reflux”, can also lead to cancer.

When stomach acid repeatedly backs up into the lower esophagus, normal esophageal tissue can be damaged and replaced by intestinal type tissue—a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, the leading risk factor for esophageal cancer.

It is estimated that three million Americans are living with this condition and the vast majority of them do not know it.

The incidence of esophageal cancer is rising at an alarmingly fast rate, and most people who are diagnosed discover it at a very late stage—too late in many instances. Therefore, it is important to increase public awareness of Barrett’s esophagus, as well as newly-available treatment options.

Patients who experience frequent reflux over a period of five years or more, especially men age 50 and over, smokers or those considered to be obese, should consider undergoing a diagnostic upper endoscopy. This includes even those people whose reflux symptoms are being controlled by medication.

During endoscopy, a thin, flexible camera is inserted into the esophagus after the patient is made sleepy and comfortable by moderate sedation. In this way, the esophageal tissue can be examined and biopsied.

If Barrett’s esophagus with an additional precancerous change called dysplasia is diagnosed, there is now available a non-surgical procedure called radiofrequency ablation (RFA) which can remove the diseased tissue before it progresses to cancer. 

During RFA,   the doctor inserts a tiny balloon catheter into the esophagus.  When inflated, the balloon applies a controlled level of heat which removes the precancerous tissue without damaging the underlying, healthy esophageal tissue.

By using RFA and periodic biopsies (when indicated), a person’s risk of esophageal cancer from acid reflux disease can now be reduced, and without life-altering surgery. Gastroenterology Associates is pleased to offer this treatment option to our patients.

If you have acid reflux, consult your health care provider to have your questions answered, and visit these web sites for further information:

Esophageal Cancer                 treat barretts