World Barrett’s Day 2021

16th May 2021

Guts UK is proud to be a part of World Barrett’s Oesophagus Day on the 16th May 2021.

What is Barrett’s Oesophagus?

Barrett’s oesophagus is a term used for pre-cancerous condition where the normal cells that line the oesophagus (food pipe) have been replaced with abnormal cells. The main concern is, although the vast majority of patients with Barrett’s oesophagus don’t progress to oesophageal cancer, they will still require monitoring.

It is thought that 10% of persistent heartburn sufferers who have longstanding reflux problems may develop Barrett’s oesophagus.

What are the symptoms of Barrett’s oesophagus?

The main symptom is reflux, which can cause heartburn, nausea, pain in the upper abdomen and even regurgitation of food. People also experience a metallic taste in the mouth or a chronic sore throat.

Often though, people don’t report any symptoms or may manage with over the counter antacids (PPI’s) which can delay the diagnosis of Barrett’s oesophagus.

John’s Story

Early on in 2020, John started to feel full after eating small amounts of food. John’s wife, Pam had noticed that he was losing weight quite quickly too.

Pam had sadly lost a family member to oesophageal cancer years prior, so when she recognised her husbands’ symptoms, she urged him to talk to his doctor.

John didn’t delay. He made an appointment to tell his GP about his symptoms. His GP made an urgent referral for John to have an endoscopy. Shortly afterwards, John was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. Read the rest of John’s story.

Do people with Barrett’s oesophagus have to be monitored, and why?

Yes. Monitoring Barrett’s oesophagus is a vital and lifelong part of treatment. Around 3 to 13 out of 100 people with Barrett’s oesophagus will go on to develop oesophageal cancer in their lifetime. Therefore, although the lifetime risk is low, those with Barrett’s oesophagus are at a higher risk of developing oesophageal cancer than the general population.

Those with Barrett’s oesophagus are usually entered into a surveillance programme which ensures regular and appropriate monitoring, usually by endoscopy. How often these endoscopies are depends, and varies from person to person.

What research is Guts UK funding into Barrett’s Oesophagus and Oesophageal cancer?

Endoscopies can be a quite unpleasant experience for patients. Even more so for those with Barrett’s oesophagus who encounter them more frequently to monitor their condition. It is also costly for the NHS, at £1,500 per endoscopy.

It is important to determine patients at risk, with the ultimate goal of targeting endoscopy towards the people at high risk of developing cancer.

Guts UK is proud to fund Dr Jamel’s research, looking to introduce a non-invasive and cost-effective way to monitor those with Barrett’s oesophagus through a ‘breath-test’.

Only 15 out of 100 people diagnosed will survive oesophageal cancer for 5 years or more, yet 59% of cases are preventable.

If successful, this breath test could save lives by diagnosing oesophageal cancer early, using a simple test, when it’s far more treatable.

What can I do to help?

  • Donate: Help the UK get to grips with guts by signing up to donate £3 a month to Guts UK.
  • Talk to your friends: Our research shows 58% of people are embarrassed to talk about their digestive condition or symptoms. Start these crucial conversations to save lives. The more people know the better..
  • Fundraise for us: there are so many fun and creative ways you can use to raise money to fund life-saving research such as Dr Jamel’s.

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