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Oesophageal cancer is thirty times more common in patients with Barrett’s oesophagus

todayJune 12, 2024 19

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Oesophageal cancer is thirty times more common in patients with Barrett’s Oesophagus, as warned by Dr. Pedro Bretchahead of the Digestive System Surgery and Surgical Oncology Service at Quirónsalud Torrevieja Hospital.

Barrett’s oesophagus is a little-known but potentially dangerous digestive disorder that affects the lining of the oesophagus caused by chronic gastroesophageal reflux.

The fundamental symptom of Barrett’s oesophagus is heartburn, which is colloquially known as burning. “The burning,” explains Dr. Juan Antonio Casellas, head of the Digestive System and Advanced Endoscopy Service at Quirónsalud Alicante, “consists of an unpleasant, sometimes painful, burning sensation that rises and falls from the pit of the stomach to the neck behind the sternum. It is often accompanied by regurgitation of gastric contents into the mouth.”

How Barrett’s Oesophagus Is Diagnosed

To confirm the diagnosis of Barrett’s oesophagus, an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy is necessary. “This test,” Dr. Casellas describes, “consists of inserting a small tube through the mouth, progressing into the oesophagus and analysing if there is a change in the cells of the distal oesophagus, right at the junction with the stomach. Usually, the appearance of the oesophagus can suggest the existence of a Barrett’s oesophagus during endoscopy. However, the diagnosis can only be confirmed with small tissue samples obtained through the endoscope and sent to the pathology laboratory.” The test is performed under sedation and does not require any special preparation, just fasting.

If it is positive, the specialist in the Digestive System at Quirónsalud Alicante recommends repeating it regularly in order to detect possible cancer at an early and potentially curable stage.

Anti-reflux surgery at Quirónsalud Torrevieja Hospital

Laparoscopic surgery is highly effective for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux and definitively eliminating the use of medications that, in the long run, cause side effects. Nine out of ten patients treated with anti-reflux surgery manage to relieve their symptoms and only 15% have a recurrence after five years.

As Dr. Bretcha explains, “The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and consists of constructing a complete or partial cuff with the stomach around the oesophagus, placing it under the diaphragm. To do this, small incisions of just a few millimetres are made to access the abdomen through the laparoscope, which is connected to a small video camera to obtain a complete view of the abdominal cavity.” Among the advantages of the laparoscopic approach are the reduction of postoperative pain, brief hospital stay, minimal scarring and rapid return to work.

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