Monday, June 6, 2022, 3:30 PM
FORT WAYNE, IN / JUNE 6, 2022 / Neil R. Sharma MD specializes in the treatment of Barrett’s esophagus and various cancers via minimally invasive endoscopic therapy. He recently offered information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of this ailment which can raise the risk of rare esophageal cancer.
Diagnosing Barrett’s Esophagus
Barrett’s esophagus is usually diagnosed with a minimally invasive endoscopy. Endoscopy involves using a tiny camera attached to a lighted tube (endoscope) that enters the throat to examine esophageal tissue.
Doctors examine the video to see if the esophagus tissue is glossy and pale (normal) or velvety and red, which can signal Barrett’s esophagus. During the endoscopy, the surgeon will remove tissue from the esophagus for the pathologist to biopsy and determine the severity of the change.
Degrees of Tissue Change
Dr. Neil Sharma explained the various levels of tissue change help determine the course of treatment. The following are the three degrees of tissue change pathologists may classify the tissue as:
No dysplasia means Barrett’s esophagus is visible, but pathologists did not locate precancerous cells.
Low-grade dysplasia means signs of precancerous changes are present.
The cells in high-grade dysplasia show a lot of changes. High-grade dysplasia is the last step before the cells become cancerous. Some also call this “pTis” or “carcinoma in situ.” The terms are interchangeable.
Neil Sharma and Treatment for Barrett’s Esophagus
Dr. Neil R. Sharma explained that the treatment method a doctor chooses for Barrett’s esophagus relies on the severity of the dysplasia.
A patient with no dysplasia will return for regular monitoring of the esophagus every year or every other year. The doctor will recommend lifestyle changes and medication to help ease symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn.
Doctors specializing in Barrett’s esophagus act more intensely when low-grade dysplasia is present. That’s because this is a precancerous stage. Options include closer observation versus eradication of Barrett’s tissue for those with low-grade dysplasia. Neil R. Sharma MD tailors these options to each patient based upon their personalized health plan and a collaborative discussion.
Popular treatment methods include endoscopically removing damaged cells, or radiofrequency ablation that removes damaged esophageal tissue with heat. Doctors will typically recommend endoscopic resection before radiofrequency ablation. Endoscopic resection allows for any raised tissue to be removed.
Cryotherapy is another option for treating low-grade dysplasia. It involves endoscopically applying a cold gas or liquid to the damaged cells, then allowing them to thaw and freezing them again. This method damages abnormal cells so they cannot spread.
High-grade dysplasia is critical because it is often the final step before diagnosing esophageal cancer. The doctor will act quickly with radiofrequency ablation, an endoscopic resection, or cryotherapy. They may also recommend a more invasive surgery to remove the damaged area of the esophagus.
Dr. Neil Sharma expressed the importance of seeking treatment for signs of Barrett’s esophagus, so it does not advance from low-grade dysplasia to high-grade dysplasia and eventually esophageal cancer.