Cancer-prevention study needs volunteers with Barrett’s esophagus

Individuals with gastric reflux and Barrett’s esophagus may be eligible for a School of Medicine study that tests whether the drug Celebrex can slow the progression of Barrett’s esophagus and the development of esophageal cancer.

About 40 percent of American adults experience gastric reflux, a condition in which stomach acid surges up into the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth and stomach.

These acid surges may cause heartburn and lead to changes in the lining of the esophagus. These changes are known as Barrett’s esophagus.

In some people, Barrett’s esophagus continues progressing until it becomes esophageal cancer.

Although treatments are available to help control stomach-acid levels and prevent the development of Barrett’s esophagus, no treatment is known that prevents or slows the progression of Barrett’s esophagus to esophageal cancer.

Some laboratory studies suggest, however, that blocking an enzyme known as COX-2 can delay some of the changes that mark the progression of Barrett’s esophagus. A commonly used pill for arthritis known as Celebrex, or celecoxib, can inhibit COX-2.

This study tests whether Celebrex taken twice daily for three years can slow the progression of Barrett’s esophagus and thereby delay development of esophageal cancer.

Patients who enroll in the three-year study will receive the drug at no cost.

For more information or to volunteer, call Karla Bergeron at 747-4235.