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Mayo Clin Proc. 2001 Mar;76(3):335-42.

Rationale for surgical therapy of Barrett esophagus.

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Department of Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla, USA.


Barrett esophagus has malignant potential and seems to be an acquired abnormality. It is associated with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease and represents its severest form. The literature comparing medical treatment with antireflux surgery was reviewed. Questions regarding the advantages of surgery, who should undergo surgery, whether surgery can change the course of Barrett esophagus, the change in cancer risk, who needs surveillance, and cost-effectiveness were addressed. The incidence of developing Barrett cancer was 1 in 145 patient-years in reviewing 2032 patient-years of medical therapy compared with 1 in 294 patient-years in reviewing 4122 patient-years after surgery. Median follow-up time in the 2 groups was 2.7 years in the medically treated patients and 4.0 years in the surgically treated patients. Surveillance of Barrett esophagus is required irrespective of treatment. Laparoscopic antireflux surgery was found to be cost-effective after 7 years. Although these data do not prove that surgery is superior to medical treatment in the prevention of cancer related to Barrett esophagus, we found a tendency for surgery to be better than medical therapy to prevent the development and progression of Barrett carcinoma.

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