Adults with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and their primary care physicians might not be aware that they should be evaluated for Barrett’s oesophagus, a condition that can lead to esophageal cancer.
Barrett’s and esophageal cancer are two conditions that can affect people with GERD. However, only 13% of 472 persons with GERD who participated in a study had ever received medical advice to have a screening endoscopy, and even fewer had actually undergone the imaging test.
According to UCLA School of Medicine researcher Jennifer Kolb, MD, “These results clearly show that screening is rarely done.”
Approximately 20% of Americans suffer with GERD, which is brought on by recurrent reflux of stomach acid into the oesophagus, the tube that connects the mouth and stomach. The lining of the oesophagus may become irritated by this backflow (acid reflux).
Heartburn, a burning sensation in the throat, a persistent cough, laryngitis, and nausea are all potential symptoms of GERD.
The lining of the oesophagus is harmed by acid reflux in Barrett’s oesophagus, which affects one in ten persons with chronic GERD symptoms. An extremely slight elevated risk of esophageal cancer is linked to Barrett’s oesophagus.
Current recommendations call for screening for Barrett’s oesophagus in those who are at risk, which includes those with chronic GERD along with other risk factors like being over 50, male, or white, smoking, being obese, and having a family history of Barrett’s or esophageal cancer. Endoscopy involves inserting a long, thin tube into the body to look for problems.
However, the current survey reveals a glaring ignorance among individuals with GERD regarding risk factors and grounds for Barrett’s screening.
Only approximately 20% thought GERD screening was necessary, and only about two-thirds correctly identified the risk factors for Barrett’s disease.
Prasad Iyer, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, advises that screening should be discussed and taken into consideration if you have three or more risk factors.
According to Dr. Seth Gross of NYU Langone Health in New York City, the poll reveals that individuals with GERD “don’t have the awareness of when they should obtain medical treatment and maybe an endoscopy.”
Although they face the most obstacles to getting screened, people of colour with GERD seem to be most concerned about getting Barrett’s.
Some people choose not to undergo an endoscopy because they are afraid of the discomfort.
After giving the patient a sedative, the doctor performs an endoscopy by inserting a lengthy, flexible tube with a camera attached down the mouth and into the oesophagus. After inserting the tube, the physician can visually examine the esophageal lining and take a small sample of tissue to confirm the diagnosis of Barrett’s.
Newer, less invasive screening options, however, are becoming more and more accessible or being developed.
One is the so-called Cytosponge, a little, multivitamin-sized device in the shape of a capsule. A sponge is attached to a tiny string inside the capsule.
The sponge expands after the capsule dissolves in the stomach. The sponge is then carefully peeled from the string. The sponge gathers cells from the whole length of your oesophagus as it is removed, and these cells are utilised to diagnose Barrett’s.