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Aug 2020

Barrett Esophagus

Reviewer(s): Phoenix Bell, MD; Dharam Ramnani, MD
Barrett esophagus (BE) is a metaplastic replacement of the stratified squamous epithelium of the distal esophagus with columnar epithelium containing goblet cells. US definition requires intestinal metaplasia. In Japan and the UK, goblet cells are not required for the diagnosis. BE is a preneoplastic lesion and increases the risk for esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC).

BE is found in about 5-10% of individuals with symptomatic gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is more common white males with a median age at diagnosis of 55 years. Diagnosis requires both endoscopic and histologic findings. At endoscopy, Barrett mucosa appears orange-pink (salmon colored) and velvety in contrast to pale pink glossy squamous mucosa.

In short-segment and long-segment BE, metaplastic epithelium lines < 3 cm or ≥ 3 cm of the distal esophagus respectively. Biopsies are classified as neg. for dysplasia, indefinite for dysplasia, and positive for LGD or HGD.

Patients with non-neoplastic BE develop LGD at the rate of 4.3% per year, and HGD at the rate of 0.9% per year. The rate of progression to cancer within 5 years is 20% with LGD and 50% with HGD. Abnormalities in CDKN2A and TP53 may indicate higher risk of progression.

Treatment of BE without dysplasia consists of proton pump inhibitors. Patients undergo surveillance endoscopy every 3-5 years. BE with dysplasia can be treated with endoscopic ablation or resection techniques.

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