New Mayo Clinic research has found that survival rates of patients with Barrett's esophagus, which can be a precursor for esophageal cancer, are no different than the survival rates for the general population. These findings were presented today at the 2009 American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Barrett's esophagus is most often diagnosed in people who have long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a chronic regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the lower esophagus. A diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus can be concerning because it increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
"Patients who are diagnosed with Barrett's esophagus often fear they will develop esophageal cancer and not survive long," says Ganapathy Prasad, M.D., gastroenterologist, Mayo Clinic and lead author on the study. "Our research examined the survival rates of Barrett's esophagus patients from Olmsted County, Minn., over the past three decades, compared to a control group of patients. We wanted to study overall survival, predictors of survival and ultimate cause of death in patients."
Survival data and cause of death was ascertained from medical records of the 366 patients. Overall survival at 10 years after diagnosis was 68 percent. Causes of death included 28 percent from cardiovascular disease, 7 percent from dementia and 7 percent from esophageal cancer. The overall survival of this group was comparable to that of a control sample from the 2000 U.S. census.
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"For the study, patients with Barrett's esophagus were tracked from six to 19 years from the time that they were diagnosed. A group of the patients diagnosed was then told to take daily aspirin for many years and then stop, while another group was told to take aspirin during the study. Researchers then tracked the rates of genetic mutations in the tissues of the affected area throughout the long study period..."