K49 -- December 2010 -- Barrett's Study Results
Intro: Millions of people know what it's like to have to run for the antacids after a big pasta dinner. Most of the time heartburn is harmless, but people who suffer from chronic heartburn are at increased risk of a condition called Barrett's esophagus. And if you have it, your chances of getting esophageal cancer go up. Doctors at Mayo Clinic studied whether or not burning away the Barrett's cells with heat from radiofrequency ablation gets rid of the problem. What they found was encouraging.
Ho, Ho, Ho.
Yep. That was a "ho, ho, ho" you heard from Bob Grinnell. He's an official Santa actor who's getting a repeat screening for signs of a condition called Barrett's esophagus.
They're going back in just to make sure it hasn't come back again.
You see, Barrett's esophagus is caused by chronic heartburn. It's characterized by changes in the cells in the lining of the esophagus. Normal cells are smooth, like tile. Barrett's cells look more like shag carpet. Over time — probably years — and in rare cases, those cells can develop into cancer.
So getting rid of those precancerous cells is important. Dr. David Fleischer uses heat from radiofrequency ablation to burn the Barrett's cells away. Results from his new study show that five years after an ablation procedure, most patients still had no signs of Barrett's.
Our conclusions were that at five years, close to 95 percent had not regrown Barrett's. And in the percentage that had, with one treatment, we could eliminate it. And so all of the patients who were in the study are now free of Barrett's at a five-year period.
Dr. Fleischer treated Bob's Barrett's in a previous procedure. He recommends all patients have follow-up endoscopies like this one to make sure they remain Barrett's-free.
Bob says knowing the Barrett's is gone helps him worry about getting cancer less. So he can spread the joy more.
Ho. Ho. Ho.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
Bob says the ablation procedure is easy to tolerate. He was a little sore afterwards, but it didn't last long. And the peace of mind he gets from knowing the Barrett's is gone is well worth it.
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