Objectives: To review the results of a 13-year surveillance programme of patients with Barrett's oesophagus to determine the incidence of adenocarcinoma. Although the risk of cancer in Barrett's oesophagus is well established, the magnitude of this risk is still controversial.
Design: Records of all patients with histologically confirmed Barrett's oesophagus in our 13-year surveillance programme were examined retrospectively.
Setting: Integrated gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgical service in a large teaching hospital.
Participants: During the study period, 597 patients had a diagnosis of Barrett's oesophagus; of these, 357 entered a yearly endoscopy and biopsy surveillance programme.
Main outcome measures: The development of oesophageal adenocarcinoma.
Results: After a mean follow-up of 43 months, 12 patients, all with specialized epithelium, developed adenocarcinoma (11 men), an incidence for men of one cancer per 69 patient-years; and for women, one cancer per 537 patient-years follow-up (P < 0.01). If only patients with specialized mucosa were included the incidence of cancer was one per 95 patient-years of follow-up (men, one per 61 patient-years; women, one per 468 patient-years).
Conclusions: Whilst the role of screening patients with Barrett's oesophagus remains controversial, this study supports the routine surveillance of male patients with specialized epithelium.