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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Sep;23(9):1362-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2008.05311.x. Epub 2008 Jan 17.

Barrett's esophagus: a retrospective analysis of 13 years surveillance.

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  • 1Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Medicine Section, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand.



The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma has increased significantly. Barrett's esophagus (BE), a known precursor, has a high prevalence but only few patients with this condition progress to malignancy--surveillance and screening programs are controversial and lack proven efficacy. This retrospective analysis reviews the 13-year outcome for patients entered into a surveillance program.


Data from patients with histologically proven Barrett's esophagus (1992-2003) that participated in a surveillance program were identified and analyzed retrospectively until 2005.


404/536 patients had Barrett's esophagus confirmed histologically of which 212 (53%) were followed in a surveillance program (mean 3.95 years per patient). This resulted in 749 gastroscopies (3.5/patient). Histologically, Barrett's mucosa was seen in 54%, low-grade dysplasia in 18%, ulcerations in 9%, high-grade dysplasia in 2%. No metaplasia was seen in 13%, no biopsy was obtained in 3%. Nine of 212 patients (4.3%) under surveillance developed esophageal cancer; two presented with symptoms, requiring gastroscopy outside the surveillance program (1/2 was operated successfully, one had advanced disease). In seven asymptomatic patients, cancer was detected on routine endoscopy; curative esophagectomy was performed in six. All patients who developed cancer were male and all but one patient had dysplasia or ulcerations on index endoscopy.


During 13 years of Barrett's surveillance, 88% of all adenocarcinoma occurred in a subset of only 11% patients. To stratify surveillance for Barrett's esophagus, programs could focus on male patients with dysplasia or ulcerations on index endoscopy. However, the cost-effectiveness of this remains unproven.

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