UMCP Introduces New Treatment to Help Prevent Esophageal Cancer

Oct 3, 2011

University Medical Center at Princeton (UMCP) has introduced a new treatment option for patients with Barrett's esophagus, a precancerous condition caused by chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Board certified gastroenterologists at UMCP are now using radiofrequency ablation, a minimally invasive endoscopic technique, to remove diseased cells from the esophagus before they become cancerous.

"This technology is taking the anxiety and uncertainty out of living with Barrett's esophagus," said Anish Sheth, M.D., who is board certified in gastroenterology and a member of the medical staff at UMCP. "Until recently, there have been very few treatment options for this condition. Now, we are able to treat patients before their disease becomes a serious and potentially life threatening problem."

Barrett's esophagus affects about 1 percent of adults in the United States and occurs twice as often in men than women, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). The average age at diagnosis is 50.

Barrett's occurs when severe acid reflux or GERD causes the cells lining the esophagus to undergo genetic changes that can set the stage for cancer development. Though esophageal cancer is rare, patients with Barrett's esophagus are at greater risk for developing the disease.

Barrett's esophagus has typically been managed by monitoring the condition through periodic endoscopic examinations and biopsies to look for early warning signs of cancer.

Now, radiofrequency ablation is enabling doctors to be more proactive in treating Barrett's.

Radiofrequency ablation at UMCP is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that involves using an endoscope to deliver high frequency radio waves to destroy the damaged tissue. The procedure generally requires moderate sedation and is typically painless, with few side effects.

Studies show that the majority of patients who undergo radiofrequency ablation remain free of Barrett's esophagus for at least five years.

Radiofrequency ablation is performed in UMCP's state-of-the-art Endoscopy Suite, a specialized center staffed by a caring team of board certified physicians and skilled nurses, and equipped with the latest technology.

"We offer a wide range of comprehensive gastrointestinal and digestive services at UMCP," said James Demetriades, Vice President of professional services at Princeton HealthCare System. "Adding radiofrequency ablation rounds out our program and makes treatment more accessible for patients in the Princeton region."

Specially trained in radiofrequency ablation, Sheth joined UMCP this summer. He previously served as the director of the gastroenterology motility program at Yale University School of Medicine, where he also was an assistant professor. He completed his fellowship in gastroenterology at Yale-New Haven Hospital and his residency and internship at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Sheth has earned numerous research awards and grants and is a frequent lecturer on the topics of gastroenterology, GERD and Barrett's esophagus. He has appeared on national news programs and has co-authored two books.

For more information about radiofrequency ablation or to find a gastroenterologist on staff at Princeton HealthCare System, please call 1.888.PHCS4YOU.