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Gastroenterology. 2002 Mar;122(3):633-40.

Surveillance and survival in Barrett's adenocarcinomas: a population-based study.

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The School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, California 94115, USA.



Guidelines recommend periodic endoscopic surveillance of Barrett's esophagus (BE) patients to detect and treat early esophageal adenocarcinomas; however, no trials or population-based studies exist. We evaluated the association between endoscopic surveillance of BE and survival among esophageal/gastric cardia adenocarcinoma patients.


We studied a cohort of 23 BE patients, among 589 esophageal or gastric cardia adenocarcinoma patients diagnosed between 1990-1998 at Northern California Kaiser Permanente (a large health maintenance organization). We measured the presence of BE, detection of cancer by endoscopic surveillance, cancer stage, mortality, and potential confounders.


BE was diagnosed in 135 of 589 adenocarcinoma patients, with 23 BE patients diagnosed greater than 6 months before cancer was diagnosed. Among these 23 patients, 73% of the surveillance-detected cancer patients (n = 15) were alive at the end of follow-up, compared with none of the patients without surveillance-detected cancers (n = 8; P = 0.001). All surveillance-detected cancer patients had low-stage disease and none died directly from cancer. The surveillance/survival association was not substantially altered by stratification for age at BE diagnosis or other potential confounders.


Surveillance-detected BE-associated adenocarcinomas were associated with low-stage disease and improved survival. Additional studies are needed to evaluate potential biases and whether screening/surveillance programs decrease mortality among all patients in surveillance. Few patients (3.9%) had a BE diagnosed before their cancer. Thus, even if current surveillance techniques are effective, they are unlikely to substantially impact the population's mortality from esophageal cancer; better methods are needed to identify at risk patients.

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