Optimizing the diagnosis and therapy of Barrett’s esophagus
The incidence of Barrett’s esophagus (BE) in the Western world has increased over the last decades. BE is considered a premalignant lesion that can progress to esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), a highly aggressive malignancy with poor survival rates. The close association between BE and EAC highlights the need for an early diagnosis in order to improve survival and outcomes in this group of patients. Although the evidence for BE screening with conventional endoscopy is controversial and limited by cost-effectiveness studies, screening can be suggested in patients with chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and two or more risk factors for EAC. Less invasive techniques with lower costs and higher acceptability by the patients may be useful for screening in the general population. Several novel techniques have been described to aid in the early diagnosis and management of BE and dysplasia. However, these techniques have shown variable results with higher costs, the need of specific training, and variable inter-observer imaging interpretation, making its widespread implementation problematic. High-definition/high-resolution white-light endoscopy (WLE) continues to be a well-accepted technique for the evaluation and surveillance of patients with BE. Further studies are required in order to establish the efficacy of less invasive methods that can be performed in an outpatient setting for BE screening in higher risk individuals.