Determining Risk for Barrett’s Esophagus

Risk factors that increase the chances of developing Barrett's esophagus include:

  • History of GERD​, or long-term heartburn
  • Age 50 and over; men are at higher risk than women
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Unhealthy eating habits

In some people, the damage and inflammation associated with acid reflux can cause genetic changes that cause the normal esophageal tissue to change into intestinal tissue. When this happens, it is referred to as Barrett’s esophagus. It’s estimated that 13% of people who have chronic acid reflux also have Barrett’s esophagus.

Therefore, the best way to prevent Barrett's esophagus is to reduce and/or treat the reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus. This is why individuals who have frequent or long-standing acid reflux symptoms should consult a physician experienced in gastroesophageal disease. Medications have not been shown to prevent the development of Barrett's esophagus or reduce the chances of it progressing to cancer.

Left untreated, acid reflux may lead to the development of pre-cancerous cells, and in a small percentage of patients, this can result in a life-threatening cancer of the esophagus known as esophageal adenocarcinoma. While rare, cancer of the esophagus is the most rapidly rising cancer in the U.S. and if discovered at a late stage can be incurable, which is why expert diagnosis and treatment are critical for individuals suffering from severe gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Expert Care You Can Trust!

The Hoag Digestive Disease Center, in alliance with USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, continues to lead the way in complex gastroesophageal care, providing access to a highly specialized surgical team that works collaboratively with Hoag-affiliated gastroenterologists and medical oncology specialists to provide academic-level care. Hoag’s committed to accurate diagnosis, combined with progressive therapeutic options enables Hoag patients to achieve some of the highest clinical outcomes in the nation.​

To schedule a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, or a second-opinion consultation with a Hoag gastroesophageal expert, visit Meet the Team, or call us at: 877-775-0604.