Previous studies have demonstrated an improved prognosis in patients with Barrett adenocarcinoma as compared with esophageal adenocarcinoma without Barrett. It has been suggested that an earlier presentation due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may lead to detection of adenocarcinoma at an earlier stage.
The records of 178 patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma presenting to Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, NY) between 1991 and 1996 were reviewed.
Main Outcome Measures
The clinical presentation, work-up, therapy, and outcome were compared between patients with Barrett esophagus (n=66) and those without endoscopic or pathologic evidence of Barrett esophagus (n=112).
There were several favorable prognostic signs in the Barrett group, including smaller tumors, lower grade, and earlier stage. More patients in the Barrett group had surgically resectable tumors, resulting in an improved overall survival. However, there were no differences in the type or duration of symptoms. Overall, very few patients presented because of GERD, and only slightly more in the Barrett group (14% vs 4%). While survival greatly improved in patients diagnosed with Barrett due to GERD, this did not account for the difference in prognosis.
Improved prognosis and survival for the Barrett group is not due to earlier presentation due to symptoms of GERD. It is more likely that all esophageal adenocarcinoma arises from Barrett esophagus, and that it is obscured by larger tumors. Reviews limited to resected patients greatly overestimate the number of adenocarcinoma cases diagnosed due to GERD. Increased efforts to identify high-risk patients and initiate screening are necessary to diagnose adenocarcinoma at an earlier stage.