Key Points

  • In Barrett's esophagus, the cells lining the esophagus change and become similar to the cells lining the intestine.

  • Barrett's esophagus is associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.

  • A small number of people with Barrett's esophagus may develop esophageal cancer. The lifetime risk is comparable to the risk of developing colon cancer - approximately 5 percent.

  • Barrett's esophagus is diagnosed by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and biopsy.

  • People who have Barrett's esophagus should have periodic esophageal examinations by EGD (upper endoscopy).

  • Taking acid-blocking drugs for GERD may result in improvements in Barrett's esophagus.

  • Specific treatment is recommended only for people who have a high risk of developing cancer or who already have it. Options include surgical removal of the esophagus or destruction of the abnormal Barrett's tissue at upper endoscopy (EGD).

For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or If you prefer, you may call the division directly at 410-328-5780.