Chances of Cancer From Barrett's Esophagus
Many people wonder, "What are the chances of cancer from Barrett's esophagus?" The change from Barrett's esophagus to esophageal cancer occurs in less than 1 percent of patients. However, these chances are still 30 to 125 times higher than the rate seen in people who do not have Barrett's esophagus.
It is estimated that about 700,000 people in the United States have Barrett's esophagus. Each year, about 10,000 to 15,000 people with Barrett's will be diagnosed with a rare but deadly type of esophageal cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma. It is, therefore, natural for people learning about Barrett's esophagus to wonder, "What are the chances of cancer from Barrett's esophagus?"
The process of change from Barrett's to esophageal cancer seems to happen in only a few patients, less than 1 percent (0.4% to 0.5%) per year, and over a relatively long period of time. This is still a rate that is 30 to 125 times higher that the rate in people without Barrett's esophagus.
Despite the fact that the chances of cancer from Barrett's esophagus are relatively low, esophageal adenocarcinoma is often not curable, partly because the disease is frequently discovered at a late stage and because treatments are not effective. Therefore, periodic examinations with an upper endoscopy to look for early warning signs of cancer are generally recommended for people who have Barrett's esophagus. This approach is called surveillance.
(Click Treatment for Barrett's Esophagus for more information about surveillance and other treatment options for Barrett's esophagus.)