Objective: The risk of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus is increased among those with Barrett's esophagus (BE). Whether the risk of cancer in the setting of BE can be decreased by a surgical antireflux procedure (SARP) is unclear. This study compared the reported incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma in subjects with BE who underwent SARP with those with BE who had medical management.
Methods: We used MEDLINE to perform a meta-analysis of the English language literature published from 1966 through October 2001. We reviewed abstracts found with the search term "Barrett's esophagus" and the following: "adenocarcinoma," "esophageal neoplasm," "proton pump inhibitor," "fundoplication," or "antireflux procedure." Study entry criteria included 1) trial or cohort study with a report of cancer risk expressible in cancers per patient-year, 2) histologic confirmation of BE and any adenocarcinomas, and 3) adequate description of intervention (medical vs SARP). Data were abstracted by two reviewers using standardized forms. Subgroup comparisons were made using only medical management studies published in the last 5 yr. Multivariable regression controlling for subject age, country of origin, and BE length was performed.
Results: We reviewed 1247 abstracts, and 34 met the inclusion criteria. There were a cumulative 4678 patient-years of follow-up in the SARP group and 4906 patient-years in the medical group. The cancer incidence rate in the SARP group was 3.8 cancers/1000 patient-years, compared with 5.3 in the medical group (p=0.29). Similarly, there was no significant difference between cancer rates when comparing SARP with medical series reported in the last 5 yr (3.8/1000 patient-years vs 4.2/1000 patient-years, p=0.33). Multivariate analysis controlling for subject age, country of origin, and BE length did not alter these findings.
Conclusion: The reported risk of adenocarcinoma in subjects with BE is low and not significantly decreased by a surgical antireflux procedure. Antireflux surgery in the setting of BE should not be recommended as an antineoplastic measure.