Surgical treatment of Barrett's carcinoma. Correlations between morphologic findings and prognosis

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1994 Apr;107(4):1059-65; discussion 1065-6. doi: 10.1007/978-4-431-68246-2_25.


Barrett's carcinoma occurred in 66 of 331 patients with adenocarcinomas of the esophagus or gastroesophageal junction. Only 32 (46%) of these patients had a history of gastroesophageal reflux. A history of alcohol and tobacco abuse was absent in 50% and 47.5%, respectively. The mean length of Barrett's metaplasia was 7.37 cm. Operability was 98.5% and resectability 95.5%. No postoperative or hospital deaths occurred. Pathologic staging was as follows: stage 0 and I, 38.3%; stage II, 20.6%; stage III, 22.2%; and stage IV, 19%. Overall survivals were 80.5% at 1 year, 62.7% at 2 years, and 58.2% at 5 years. Five-year survival for patients with stage I disease was 100%; for stage II, 87.5%; for stage III, 22.2%; and for stage IV, 0%. Thirty-four (51.5%) patients were under surveillance for a related or unrelated condition before diagnosis of their carcinoma; only nine (26.5%) had diseased lymph nodes. In 32 the diagnosis was made at their first medical contact, and 78% of them had diseased lymph nodes. Five-year survival without nodal metastasis was 85.3% and significantly better than for patients with metastasis, 38.3% (p = 0.0033). Of the 66 patients, 19 (28.7%) had a biopsy-proved history of Barrett's metaplasia before malignancy developed. Mean time interval between diagnosis of metaplasia and degeneration was 3.8 years (89.5% > 1 year). Over the surveillance period, the length of metaplastic Barrett's esophagus remained unchanged in all patients. Barrett's ulceration was present from the beginning in 14 patients, and three patients never had an ulcer. Intestinal metaplasia was seen in 18 patients. Resected specimens revealed severe dysplasia in 16 patients. Of the 19 patients, 73.7% had stage I disease. Our data suggest that close endoscopic monitoring and systematic biopsies of the smallest irregularities in the metaplastic mucosa may result in early detection of carcinoma. In this respect, patients with an ulcer within a zone of intestinal metaplasia seem to be at risk. Early detection increases substantially the chances for cure by diminishing the risks of lymph node involvement. Resection remains the treatment of choice in Barrett's adenocarcinoma including high-grade dysplasia, because mortality can be kept low with excellent to very good functional results in the majority of the patients provided the intervention is performed by experienced teams.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Barrett Esophagus / mortality
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Barrett Esophagus / surgery*
  • Biopsy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Esophagectomy
  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metaplasia / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis