Adena Health Focus January 09, 2018

Heartburn Can Cause Cancer: Adena Offers New Breakthrough Treatment

Think about the last time you had heartburn. Chances are it was after you overindulged and ate spicy or greasy foods. While easy to dismiss, heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and long-term effects can lead to much larger health issues if left untreated. If you are experiencing heartburn more than once a week, it may be time to talk to your doctor.

Adena Health System now offers a new breakthrough procedure to effectively treat patients suffering from chronic regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the lower esophagus known as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Undiagnosed the long-term effects of GERD can result in what is known as Barrett's esophagus, where tissue in the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus) is replaced by tissue similar to the intestinal lining. Barrett's esophagus is also associated with an increased risk of developing esophageal cancer. 

Adena’s new Medtronic Barrx radiofrequency ablation (RFA) treatment effectively treats Barrett’s esophagus by removing precancerous cells with heat. Clinical studies show the system reduces the risk of Barrett’s esophagus progressing to esophageal cancer by more than 90 percent.

“Acid reflex disease is a common disorder affecting 25 to 35 percent of the U.S. population,” said Adena Gastroenterology Specialist Waheed Gul. “Within that 10 to 20 percent of patients with acid reflex develop Barrett’s. In the past, our patients with Barrett’s esophagus had to travel to Columbus and other nearby metropolitan cities for treatment, which was big hassle for them. Now this treatment is provided here at Adena close to their homes.”

Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States. Those who have heartburn, drink alcohol and eat a heavy diet of spicy and fatty foods are higher risk for developing Barrett’s esophagus and getting esophageal cancer.

Many patients with Barrett’s esophagus experience no symptoms because their GERD medication relieves those symptoms. The key to surviving esophageal cancer is early detection and treatment of Barrett’s esophagus. Adena’s Barrx RFA system reduces the risk of Barrett’s esophagus progressing to esophageal cancer.

“Barrett’s esophagus progresses from no dysplasia to low grade, high grade dysplasia and then cancer. EGD or Esophagogastroduodenoscopy in those patients with above risk factors can detect Barrett’s esophagus in early stages and thus can subsequently eradicate it with RFA thus preventing cancer,” said Dr. Gul.  

The Medtronic Barrx RFA system works by the physician inserting a sizing balloon into the esophagus to measure its diameter. Next, a correctly-sized ablation balloon is inserted into the esophagus and then inflated in the area of the Barrett’s tissue. A very thin layer of the diseased esophagus is removed with heat, a rapids burst of radiofrequency energy for less than one second. This outpatient procedure is done in less than 30 minutes.

“A large sum of our patients in our region have risk factors for Barrett’s - long standing acid reflex disease, male, white race, age over 50 years, central obesity and hiatal hernia - so early detection and eradication is very important to the well-being of our patients,” Dr. Gul explained.

To learn more about Adena’s New RFA system or to schedule an appointment, call Adena Gastroenterology at 740-779-8530.