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Drug OK'd for GERD-Related Syndrome

For people with Barrett's esophagus

TUESDAY, Aug. 5, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Photofrin (porfimer sodium) to treat precancerous lesions in people with a severe form of a disorder called Barrett's esophagus.

The condition affects the lining of the esophagus and is associated with a common disorder called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is characterized by frequent heartburn. While Barrett's esophagus may cause no symptoms itself, in rare cases it can lead to development of precancerous lesions that progress to a deadly form of cancer.

Photofrin is an agent used in photodynamic therapy (PDT), which uses a particular type of laser light to zap cancer cells. The agency first approved Photofrin in 1998.

In clinical trials and a subsequent two-year follow-up, patients who received Photofrin had an 80 percent chance of being cancer-free. The long-term effects of Photofrin on esophageal cancer haven't been determined, the FDA says.

For more information about Barrett's esophagus, visit the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

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