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Repeated episodes of GORD can lead to changes in the cells of the lining of your lower oesophagus. This is a condition known as Barrett''s oesophagus. Most cases of Barrett''s oesophagus does not usually cause any noticeable symptoms other than those that are associated with GORD. However, there is a small risk that the cells that are affected by Barrett''s oesophagus develop oesophageal cancer. Risk factors that increase the risk of the cells in the lining of your oesophagus turning cancerous include:
- being male
- having the symptoms of GORD for longer than 10 years
- having three or more episodes of heartburn and related symptoms a week
If it is thought that you have an increased risk of developing oesophageal cancer, it is likely that you will be referred for regular endoscopies in order to monitor the condition of the affected cells.
If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed in its initial stages, it is usually possible to cure the cancer using a type of treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT).
PDT involves injecting your oesophagus with a special type of medication that makes it very sensitive to the effects of light. A laser that is attached to an endoscope is placed inside your oesophagus and burns away the cancerous cells.
See the Health A-Z topic about Cancer of the oesophagus for more information.