The epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of Barrett's carcinoma

Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2015 Mar 27;112(13):224-33; quiz 234. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2015.0224.


Background: Roughly 3000 new cases of Barrett's carcinoma arise in Germany each year. In view of recent advances in the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment of this disease, an update of the clinical recommendations is in order.

Methods: This review is based on selected relevant publications, including current reviews, meta-analyses, and guidelines.

Results: The risk of progression of Barrett's esophagus to carcinoma lies between 0.10% and 0.15% per year. Risk factors for progression include male sex, age over 50 years, obesity, longstanding and frequent reflux symptoms, smoking, length of the Barrett's esophagus, and intraepithelial neoplasia. Well-differentiated carcinomas that are confined to the esophageal mucosa can be resected endoscopically with a cure rate above 90%. For more advanced, but still locally confined tumors, surgical resection is the treatment of choice. In stages cT3/4, the prognosis can be improved with neo-adjuvant chemo - therapy or combined radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Metastatic Barrett's carcinoma can be treated by endoscopic, chemotherapeutic, radiotherapeutic, and palliative methods.

Conclusion: Early carcinoma can often be cured by endoscopic resection. Locally advanced carcinoma calls for multimodal treatment. Current research focuses on means of preventing the progression of Barrett's esophagus, the scope of applicability of endoscopic techniques, and the optimization of multimodal treatment strategies for advanced disease.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Barrett Esophagus / diagnosis*
  • Barrett Esophagus / epidemiology
  • Barrett Esophagus / therapy*
  • Causality
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis*
  • Precancerous Conditions / epidemiology
  • Precancerous Conditions / therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors