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New Technique Helps Detect Esophageal Cancer

Having heartburn is bad enough, but experiencing GERD can be frightening. And potentially dangerous.

GERD  – gastrointestinal reflux disease - is a condition in which stomach contents (food or liquid) leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus, irritating the esophagus and causing heartburn and other symptoms, including the feeling that food is stuck behind the breastbone, as well as burning pain in the chest.

Chronic exposure to stomach acids can damage the lining of the esophagus and Barrett’s esophagus can develop, but patients with GERD are necessarily at an increased risk for developing Barrett’s esophagus, which itself does not cause symptoms.

“While not all people with prolonged GERD symptoms will develop Barrett’s esophagus, the risk is known, and patients should not ignore chronic heartburn,” says Dr. Seth A. Gross, director of advanced endoscopy at Norwalk Hospital .

Traditionally, physicians performed upper endoscopies to take random tissue samples to diagnose Barrett’s and identify patches of cells that show early signs of cancer. These cells will become cancerous unless they are identified and removed. Esophageal cancer is usually not curable.

Gross has turned to EndoDCx, a new approach for detecting early signs of Barrett’s esophagus.

“EndoDCx is a computer-aided brush biopsy shown to increase the detection of Barrett’s esophagus and precancerous change during upper endoscopy procedures to screen for early signs of cancer,” says Gross. “Norwalk Hospital is the first in Connecticut to offer patients this technology, which improves detection of precancerous cells by up to 40 percent.”

Gross is a recipient of numerous honors and awards for his accomplishments in the field of gastroenterology.

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