Barrett’s oesophagus is considered a pre-cancerous condition. Being diagnosed with Barrett’s oesophagus doesn’t mean that you
have cancer or even that you will definitely go on to develop cancer. However, it does mean that you are at higher than normal
risk of developing oesophageal cancer in the future. The abnormal cells in your oesophagus could change into cancer cells.
Careful monitoring can ensure that any problems are detected and treated as soon as possible, but it is still important to be aware of this risk.
Types of Cancer Linked to Barrett’s Oesophagus
Barrett’s Oesophagus is associated with an increased risk of a specific type of Oesophageal cancer known as Adenocarcinoma.
Most cases of oesophageal cancer happen in people who do not have Barrett’s oesophagus and who will usually develop a different type of cancer called a squamous cell carcinoma. The difference between the two types is in the part of the oesophagus where the cancer begins to grow. Adenocarcinoma begins in cells that produce mucus near the base of the oesophagus while squamous cell carcinoma begins in the cells that line the upper oesophagus.
Treating Oesophageal Cancer
Regular screening will ensure that any changes in your oesophagus are detected as soon as possible. If the doctor spots any signs of developing cancer, you will be offered treatment right away. The doctor may suggest removing the affected cells with radiofrequency ablation or a surgical resection to remove the affected part of the oesophagus. In some cases chemotherapy or radiotherapy may be recommended as well to ensure that all of the cancer cells have been eliminated. As long as the cancer has been spotted early, oesophageal cancer can usually be treated very successfully. It is therefore essential to undergo screening and to talk to your doctor if you notice any symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss or discomfort.