Living with Barrett’s oesophagus

Barrett’s oesophagus (esophagus in north america) is a common genetically predisposed premalignant condition affecting 2-3 % of adults in the west. In 65% of cases it is preceded by reflux symptoms of heartburn, salty taste in the mouth or retrosternal discomfort. However in a third the preceding symptoms may be very mild or even in the distant past and therefore not current. The pathology of the condition is a change in the regular lining of the oesophagus so that it looks more like a chaotic version of the colon, intestine and/or stomach. This irregularity predisposes patients to an elevated risk (20-30  fold increased) of oesophageal adenocarcinoma usually in the 60-80 age group. However because the background risk of oesophageal adenocarcinoma is so low only 2-3% of patients with Barrett’s oesophagus actually develop the cancer. Therefore 97-98% die of other causes usually heart disease or pneumonia. We are interested in exploring all the causes of premature death in patients.

 

The genetics of this condition mean that the diseases is not inherited directly from parents to children directly.  However predisposing factors which allow reflux to develop namely hiatal hernias and fatty organs (visceral obesity)  are inherited and the ChOPIN genetics study is currently studying this link. We. welcome participation from all patients.