Acid Reflux’s Link To Cancer

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One in five people experience acid reflux on a regular basis. Often referred to as heartburn, the quick fix is to grab an antacid and hope for the best.

Doctors warn that people who have reflux at least twice per week should see a physician to find out if a bigger problem exists.

"If you're on a regular antacid therapy and you're still experiencing regular symptoms then you should see your physician and discuss possibly having an endoscopy," said Dr. David Chaletsky, a gastroenterologist at Hartford Hospital.

Reflux can cause Barrett's Esophagus, a condition in which the lining of the esophagus changes due to the erosive reflux. If left untreated, approximately 15-20 percent of people with advanced Barrett's will develop esophageal cancer.

The good news is that Barrett's can be cured through a relatively new procedure called radio frequency ablation. The technique involves using heat energy to to remove the diseased tissue, allowing normal, healthy tissue to regenerate.

John Bogdanski went to his doctor after he became concerned about his frequent reflux and an endoscopy revealed he had Barrett's. When John learned that Barrett's is a pre-cancerous condition, he wanted to be proactive. He has had ablation four times.

The procedure is an outpatient procedure, usually done in an endoscopy unit at a hospital or an outpatient surgical center.

"You go to sleep, time passes. You wake up. Somebody gives you a wonderful, what they call a, GI cocktail, which includes some things to make your insides more comfortable and they pack you up and send you home," said John.

The ablation lasts about 30 minutes and recovery can be anywhere from 2-3 days for the initial procedure. Dr. Chaletsky said most patients will require more than one ablation and that the healing process is quicker and easier each time.

John recently had his follow-up endoscopy and found out he is Barrett's-free.

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