Conference Coverage

Barrett’s segment length, low-grade dysplasia tied to increased risk of neoplastic progression



Low-grade dysplasia and length of Barrett’s segment are both significant predictors of neoplastic progression, investigators here reported, but risk of esophageal progression from Barrett’s esophagus to adenocarcinoma remains low.

Tracking neoplastic progression is of prime importance in patients with Barrett’s esophagus (BE) because it can lead to the formation of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAD), Esther Klaver of the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam noted at the annual Digestive Disease Week. By the time many patients present with symptoms, they are at an incurable stage of the disease and have 5-year survival rates below 20%. Endoscopic surveillance of patients with BE can detect neoplastic progression and EAD when it is still curable.

Ms. Klaver and her colleagues attempted to conduct the “perfect study” by observing patients with BE to identify endoscopic and clinical factors associated with increased risk of neoplastic progression. They did this by establishing a surveillance program to track disease progression that enrolled 987 patients from 2003 to 2017 at six community-based hospitals. The patients who enrolled had been diagnosed with BE and identified via a Dutch pathology registry or were newly diagnosed BE patients. Those with any history of EAD or high-grade dysplasia (HGD) were not included.

Ms. Klaver and her colleagues found that after a 7-year follow-up period the annual risk of progression to HGD or EAD was 0.79% per patient year, with 68 of the 987 patients progressing. Of the patients who progressed, 27 progressed to HGD (40%), and 41 progressed to EAD (60%). An overwhelming majority of patients received endoscopic management (59 patients, 87%), while some patients required surgery (9, 13%). Only 32 (3%) patients in the entire study population were lost to follow-up.

Low-grade dysplasia at baseline was the factor with the highest risk for esophageal progression, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 2.33 (95% CI, 1.27-4.29). Longer BE length (HR 1.07, 95% CI 1.04-1.10) and age at baseline (HR 1.17, 95% CI 1.12-1.24) were less associated with risk of HGD or EAD, but still significant.

Ms. Klaver pointed out that this study is unique in its design. The long-term follow-up and the focus on strict adherence to guidelines and optimal surveillance set this study apart from many BE studies.

“We tried to perform the perfect, optimal, prospective Barrett’s surveillance study in a large cohort with almost 1,000 patients with a median follow-up of almost 8 years.” Ms. Klaver said. “We have done this in a community, nonacademic setting, with the average Barrett’s patient. We have showed you that even with perfect surveillance that progression risk is low, with only 68 of almost 1,000 patients showing progression.”


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