Objective: An association between Barrett's esophagus and colorectal neoplasia has been suggested; however, several studies addressing this issue have reported conflicting results. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to determine the prevalence of colorectal neoplasia in a large group of patients (50-80 yr old; mean, 65 yr) with Barrett's esophagus and compare it with that of a similar group of asymptomatic, average-risk controls.
Methods: Seventy-nine subjects (71 men, eight women) with well-documented Barrett's esophagus underwent complete colonoscopy (cecum reached), which was performed as part of an initial screening evaluation for enrollment in a prospective study of Barrett's esophagus. The control population (N = 930) is represented by the cumulative results of four recent studies in which screening colonoscopy was performed in asymptomatic subjects of average risk. The age of the two groups were similar.
Results: A total of 38 adenomatous polyps were found in 26 patients in the study group. Three patients (4%) had polyps > 1 cm in size or with villous change, which was similar to the prevalence among asymptomatic controls (5%). The overall prevalence of colon adenomas was 32%, and the prevalence of colorectal cancer was 1% in the Barrett's group. In the control group, 30% had adenomas and 0.5% had cancer.
Conclusion: The prevalence of adenomatous polyps, both large and small, in a group of patients (ages 50-80 yr) with well-documented Barrett's esophagus is no different from that in asymptomatic controls. These results do not support the assumption of an association between Barrett's esophagus and an increased risk of colon neoplasia, or justify an aggressive surveillance strategy for colon neoplasia in patients with Barrett's esophagus.