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Why is it important that patients have an endoscopy?

An endoscopy is the best method to detect Barrett’s esophagus and early esophageal cancer. I can tell if a patient has Barrett’s when the lining of the esophagus, typically white, is changed to a shade of red, and I would then obtain a sample to examine under the microscope.

Patients who have Barrett’s esophagus are at a greater risk for developing ulcers, narrowing and cancer of the esophagus. They also have increased risk of developing a specific type of cancer: esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is affecting more and more people every year. It is the fastest rising cancer in Caucasian men in the United States.

Treatment for Barrett’s esophagus and early esophageal cancer can be achieved through endoscopy thus saving the esophagus from major surgery.

Unfortunately, in most patients the cancer is discovered at a late stage, which is why it is important to have an endoscopy to screen for the precursor lesions and have a biopsy of sample tissue.

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