An outpatient treatment that destroys pre-cancerous tissue in the lining of the esophagus is now available at Centegra Hospital-McHenry and Centegra Hospital-Woodstock. 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 Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition that affects one to two million adults in the United States each year.
Dr. Amit Shah, an independent gastroenterologist on the medical staff at Centegra Hospital-McHenry and Centegra Hospital-Woodstock, is specially trained in the ablation therapy. He said Barrett’s disease occurs when the esophagus is chronically exposed to stomach acid caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease, commonly known as GERD. With prolonged acid exposure, normal cells in the esophagus can undergo a genetic change and are then vulnerable to further changes that can lead to cancer. Individuals with Barrett’s esophagus have 40 to 130 times greater risk of developing esophageal cancer than those without the condition. Esophageal cancer is presently the fastest growing form of cancer in the United States.
Shah said people with Barrett’s esophagus have a risk of developing esophageal cancer that is similar to the risk of a person with a colon polyp developing colon cancer. However, unlike a colon polyp that is removed immediately upon diagnosis through a colonoscopy, in the past the standard treatment for Barrett’s disease was “watchful waiting” or surveillance to monitor the progression of the disease.
“Previously we could use ablation therapy to remove or destroy pre-cancerous tissue, but the technology had limitations and wasn’t widely used,” Shah said. “The HALO System provides uniform and controlled ablative therapy, which not only removes the abnormal cells but also allows for regrowth of normal cells. It’s also easier to use the HALO System to effectively treat patients without injuring healthy underlying tissue.”
During the procedure at Centegra’s hospitals, an ablation catheter is positioned on the abnormal esophageal tissue. Using a HALO Energy Generator, the physician delivers a rapid burst of ablative energy to remove a very thin layer of the diseased esophagus. The procedure is performed in an outpatient setting, without incisions, and usually takes less than 30 minutes.
“The main purpose of the ablation procedure is to remove the abnormal lining of the esophagus,” Shah said. “The tissue then regenerates and normal tissue grows back. This eliminates or markedly reduces the chances of cancer.”
Shah said esophageal 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 usually starts with GERD, which can cause Barrett’s disease and can lead to esophageal cancer,” Shah said. “That’s why it’s important to seek medical treatment for symptoms of GERD, the most common being heartburn.”
For more information about ablation for Barrett’s esophagus, call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).
Centegra Health System is committed to meeting the healthcare needs of the residents of greater McHenry County and to making services available in multiple and convenient locations, including hospitals in McHenry and Woodstock, Immediate and Physician Care Centers, Centegra Sage Cancer Center, Health Bridge Fitness Centers and the widely anticipated Centegra Hospital–Huntley slated for opening in 2016.
As the region’s leading healthcare provider, Centegra Health System continues to bring the latest treatments and technology, along with the skills of nearly 4,000 medical professionals, to meet the needs of the growing McHenry County community. For more information on Centegra Health System visit Facebook and Twitter or call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).