Ground breaking treatment at Hamilton Medical Center can prevent esophageal cancer

Monday, January 06, 2014

Pictured are associates from Hamilton Medical Center’s Endoscopy Lab. In the front, from left are Brandy Adams, LaDonna Gray and Shanon Windom. In the back are Connie Belue, Barbara Rose, Pam Headrick, Sarah Hardson and Erica Hernandez. 
Pictured are associates from Hamilton Medical Center’s Endoscopy Lab. In the front, from left are Brandy Adams, LaDonna Gray and Shanon Windom. In the back are Connie Belue, Barbara Rose, Pam Headrick, Sarah Hardson and Erica Hernandez.
Signs or symptoms (though many people with Barrett’s esophagus experience none):
• Frequent heartburn
• Difficulty swallowing food

• Chest pain

• Upper abdominal pain

• Dry cough

DALTON, Ga. – An outpatient treatment that destroys pre-cancerous tissue in the lining of the esophagus is now available at Hamilton Medical Center (HMC).

The procedure, endoscopic radiofrequency ablation therapy using the HALO System, was recently featured in the New England Journal of Medicine as a highly effective treatment for complete eradication of Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition that affects one to two million adults in the United States each year.

According to local gastroenterologist Lee Strauss, MD, cancer is often incurable because the disease is frequently discovered in the advanced stages. Esophageal cancer has a five-year patient survival rate of just 16 percent. “It can start with GERD, which can cause Barrett’s disease, which can lead to esophageal cancer,” said Strauss. “That’s why it’s important to seek medical treatment for symptoms of GERD, the most common being heartburn.”

 Risk factors:

• Chronic heartburn and acid reflux. Having these symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) for more than 10 years can increase the risk of Barrett’s esophagus.

• Men are more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus.

• Those of the Caucasian race have a greater risk of the disease than do people of other races.

• Barrett’s esophagus is more common in older adults, but it can occur at any age.

Individuals with Barrett’s esophagus have a 40 to 130 times higher incidence of developing esophageal cancer than those without the condition. Esophageal is presently the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States.

The main purpose of the ablation procedure is to ablate, or remove the abnormal lining of the esophageal. The tissue then regenerates, and normal tissue grows back. This eliminates or markedly reduces the chances of cancer developing. Data from studies shows that the treatment is highly effective.

During the procedure, an ablation catheter (HALO360 or HALO90 Ablation Catheter) is positioned on the abnormal esophageal tissue. Using the HALO Energy Generator, the physician delivers a rapid burst of ablative energy, which removes a very thin layer of the diseased esophagus. The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting, without incisions, and takes less than 30 minutes on average.

For a person with Barrett’s disease, the risk of developing esophageal cancer is similar to the risk of developing colon cancer for patients who have a colon polyp. However, unlike a colon polyp, which is removed immediately upon diagnosis through a colonoscopy, prior to the availability of the HALO System, the standard treatment for Barrett’s disease was “watchful waiting” or surveillance to monitor the progression of the disease.

The HALO System provides uniform and controlled ablative therapy, which not only removes the abnormal cells but also allows for regrowth of normal cells. And, the HALO System allows an effective treatment option without injuring healthy underlying tissue.

To learn more, please visit hamiltonhealth.com/Barretts. To find a physician, please call 706-272-6100.