Editorial: Where Are You and How Do We Find You? The Dilemma of Identifying Barrett's Epithelium Before Adenocarcinoma of the Esophagus

Wong, Roy K. H.; Altekruse, Sean F.
June 2009
American Journal of Gastroenterology;Jun2009, Vol. 104 Issue 6, p1363
Academic Journal
The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma in white males has been increasing steadily over the past decade. However, attempts to identify the precursor lesion, intestinal metaplasia of the esophagus, or early in-situ cancers have been dismal, with no increase in the diagnosis of early cancers over 9 years of follow-up, as noted in the study by Cooper et al. Important predictors of survival, such as a previous diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease, endoscopy, and the diagnosis of intestinal metaplasia, continue to represent a minority of patients who present with esophageal adenocarcinoma. A discussion on the possible pathophysiology, and reasons for the poor diagnostic yields in spite of performing more endoscopies, are presented. It may be that most patients are relatively asymptomatic, or have very distal, endoscopically imperceptible intestinal metaplasia. Over time, factors that encourage localized, distal esophageal reflux may be the insidious culprit that leads to intestinal metaplasia.Am J Gastroenterol 2009; 104:1363–1365; doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.167; published online 12 May 2009


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