Barrett's esophagus (BE) is a chronic, metaplastic lesion of the esophagus and the only known precursor of esophageal adenocarcinoma. The identification of risk factors to assess the risk for BE and their correspondence with hallmarks of malignant progression for early stratification purposes is critically needed. Data legitimate the assumption that aside of reflux symptoms and related conditions, also demographic and environmental factors are thought to be associated with the risk for BE and its progression to esophageal adenocarcinoma. Molecular biomarkers and inflammatory mechanisms are subjects of intensive research and dispone of promising features regarding risk assessment especially for progressive BE. The amount of investigated epidemiologic factors, as well as discovered biomarkers gets confusingly large. Despite the recognized potential relevance of environmental and molecular factors, the efforts to date have resulted in moderately applicable risk estimates. More prospective data is needed to allow an imputation of the mostly retrospectively assessed factors to reappraise their meaningfulness in risk prediction approaches.
Keywords: Barrett's esophagus; biomarker; environmental factors; metaplasia; microenvironment; prediction model; risk factors.