Treating Precancerous Cells in Barrett’s Esophagus Without Surgery

John Gentzler

John Gentzler

For 40 years John Gentzler, 66, dealt with his chronic acid reflux the way most people deal with a heartburn flare-up, antacids.

“I lived on Rolaids,” says the 66-year-old Gloucester County, N.J. resident. “I desperately needed some kind of relief from this constant burning pain in my windpipe and chest.”

But the south Jersey man, a decorated war veteran, wasn’t getting much relief and eating anything – even something as innocuous as toast – would bring back the pain. Ultimately Gentzler sought relief from Jefferson gastroenterologist Anthony Infantolino, MD, AGAF, FACG, FACP.

Gentzler had Barrett’s esophagus – a condition in which the cells that line the esophagus are changed into abnormal cells.

“Left untreated, Barrett’s esophagus can lead to esophageal cancer, an aggressive cancer that is typically fatal,” says Dr. Infantolino, director of the new Jefferson Barrett’s Esophagus Treatment Center. “John had damage and the presence of precancerous cells. We knew we had to act quickly.”

Instead of traditional surgery to remove the esophagus and attach his stomach directly to his throat, Dr. Infantolino recommended Gentzler have radiofrequency ablation (RFA) – a leading-edge therapy using a balloon to deliver an electrical charge and remove a thin layer of cells in the esophagus. The gastroenterologist recommended he undergo five RFA procedures in an effort to destroy the precancerous cells and relieve his pain.

You can read John Gentzler’s complete story online in the March issue of Keep In Touch With Jefferson.

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