Barrett Esophagus: A Review

JAMA. 2022 Aug 16;328(7):663-671. doi: 10.1001/jama.2022.13298.


Importance: Barrett esophagus is characterized by the replacement of normal esophageal squamous cell epithelium with columnar metaplasia and affects approximately 5% of people in the US and approximately 1% worldwide. Approximately 3% to 5% of patients with Barrett esophagus will be diagnosed with esophageal adenocarcinoma in their lifetime.

Observations: Barrett esophagus affects approximately 2.3% to 8.3% of people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and approximately 1.2% to 5.6% of people without GERD. Characteristics associated with Barrett esophagus include older age (prevalence of approximately 1.1% in individuals older than 50 years compared with 0.3% in those 50 years or younger), male sex, and smoking (prevalence of approximately 12% in people who smoke cigarettes compared with 1.1% in those who do not smoke cigarettes). The histopathology of Barrett esophagus progresses from metaplasia to dysplasia and, without treatment, can progress to adenocarcinoma. People with Barrett esophagus have approximately a 0.2% to 0.5% annual rate of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma. Management of Barrett esophagus primarily consists of acid-suppressive medications to reduce underlying GERD symptoms and surveillance endoscopy every 3 to 5 years. In patients with Barrett esophagus and dysplasia or early cancer, endoscopic therapy consisting of resection and ablation successfully treats 80% to 90% of patients.

Conclusions and relevance: Barrett esophagus affects approximately 5% of people in the US and approximately 1% worldwide and is associated with an increased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma. First-line therapy for Barrett esophagus consists of proton-pump inhibitors for control of reflux symptoms, but their role in chemoprevention is unclear. Surveillance with upper endoscopy is recommended by practice guidelines to monitor for progression to esophageal adenocarcinoma, but randomized clinical trials are lacking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma* / etiology
  • Barrett Esophagus* / diagnosis
  • Barrett Esophagus* / etiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / diagnosis
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metaplasia
  • Precancerous Conditions* / diagnosis
  • Precancerous Conditions* / etiology
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Proton Pump Inhibitors

Supplementary concepts

  • Adenocarcinoma Of Esophagus