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Lenox Hill Hospital First In Area To Offer New Tool For Treating Precancerous Condition Of The Esophagus Caused By Chronic Heartburn

August 15, 2006

Lenox Hill Hospital today announced the availability of a new tool to treat Barrett's esophagus. Caused by chronic heartburn or "GERD" (gastroesophageal reflux disease), Barrett's esophagus is a precancerous condition affecting the lining of the esophagus, the muscular tube that carries food, liquids and saliva from the mouth to the stomach. Until now, there have been limited treatment options. Left untreated, Barrett's can lead to a dangerous type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma, which is currently the most rapidly rising cancer in the U.S.

A new treatment system delivers a short burst of energy to the lining of the esophagus to uniformly remove the thin layer of diseased tissue. Normal cells usually grow back in three to four weeks for most patients. In clinical studies, 70 percent of participants were Barrett's-free after one to two treatment sessions at the twelve month follow-up. Ablation of the diseased lining of the esophagus offers treatment for the disease before it progresses to cancer.

"Physicians have long searched for a safe, effective way to treat Barrett's esophagus," said Gregory Haber, MD, Director of Gastroenterology at Lenox Hill Hospital. "Completely removing the thin layer of the diseased esophageal lining simplifies the therapy of pre-cancerous Barrett's. This effective technique may enable us to reduce if not eliminate the disease and anxiety for patients with Barrett's. The availability of a proactive option for Barrett's esophagus at Lenox Hill Hospital's Heartburn Center underscores our long-standing commitment to providing patients with the best treatment options available today."

Barrett's esophagus affects approximately three million U.S. adults. However, studies suggest this number may be low. Barrett's esophagus occurs when chronic acid exposure causes the protective cells lining the esophagus to break down and undergo genetic changes that can set the stage for cancer.

About the Procedure

The non-surgical procedure is performed in an out-patient setting under conscious sedation. The entire procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes. Controlled delivery of energy avoids injury to normal, healthy underlying tissues. Normal cells typically grow back in three to four weeks. Minor discomfort, which may be experienced by some patients, can be managed with medication. Following ablation therapy, patients resume acid suppression therapy.

The device was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001 and became commercially available in January 2005.

Lenox Hill Hospital, a 652-bed, acute-care hospital located on Manhattan?s Upper East Side, has earned a national reputation for outstanding patient care and innovative medical and surgical treatments. The Hospital is particularly well known for excellence in cardiovascular disease, orthopaedics, joint replacement, sports medicine, otolaryngology/head and neck surgery, and maternal/child health. A major teaching affiliate of NYU Medical Center, the Hospital is also a recognized leader in public health education and community outreach.

Members of the press seeking information about Lenox Hill Hospital should call the Public Relations Department at (212) 434-2400.