Objective: To investigate the prevalence of Barrett's esophagus in patients with adenocarcinomas located at the gastroesophageal junction.
Design: A case series of patients who underwent esophagogastrectomy for adenocarcinoma was retrospectively reviewed. Tumors were grouped by location as esophageal, cardiac, and subcardiac, and the prevalence of specialized intestinal metaplasia in the histological specimens was determined.
Setting: A university department of surgery that specializes in esophageal diseases.
Patients: One hundred patients with adenocarcinoma of the esophagus, cardia, or proximal stomach.
Main outcome: Cardiac adenocarcinomas were associated with Barrett's esophagus in 42% of the patients.
Results: Specialized intestinal metaplasia was identified in the histological sections from the resected specimen in 42% (13/31) of cardiac adenocarcinomas and in 79% (38/48) of esophageal adenocarcinomas but in only 5% (1/21) of subcardiac adenocarcinomas. The preoperative endoscopic biopsy results concurred with the final diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus in 33 of the 38 esophageal tumors, six of the 13 cardiac tumors, and the one subcardiac tumor but failed to detect specialized intestinal metaplasia in 54% (7/13) of cardiac tumors. Cardiac tumors were associated with shorter lengths of Barrett's mucosa than esophageal tumors (2.7 +/- 1.8 cm vs 7.4 +/- 3.4 cm, P < .01). The Barrett's metaplasia was dysplastic in 36 of the 38 esophageal tumors, 10 of the 13 cardiac tumors, but not in the subcardiac tumor.
Conclusions: Adenocarcinomas located at the gastroesophageal junction were associated with Barrett's metaplasia in nearly one half of the patients. The length of the Barrett segment tends to be short and may be missed during endoscopy. The presence of high-grade dysplasia within Barrett's mucosa supports a barrett's origin for half of the adenocarcinomas arising at this location.