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Am Fam Physician. 2022;106(4):383-387

Related editorial: Emerging Roles for Family Physicians in Diagnosing and Treating Barrett Esophagus

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Author disclosure: No relevant financial relationships.

Barrett esophagus is a premalignant change of the esophagus; however, malignant transformation to esophageal adenocarcinoma is rare in patients without dysplasia. Barrett esophagus is estimated to affect up to 5.6% of the U.S. population. Risk factors for Barrett esophagus include gastroesophageal reflux disease, obesity, age older than 50 years, male sex, tobacco use, and a family history of Barrett esophagus or esophageal adenocarcinoma. Patients who experience chronic gastroesophageal reflux symptoms plus additional risk factors should be considered for screening. Mucosal change consistent with Barrett esophagus is visualized during upper endoscopy; biopsy confirms the diagnosis and determines if dysplasia is present. Management of Barrett esophagus depends on the presence and severity of dysplasia; endoscopic treatment of dysplasia decreases the risk of malignant transformation. Surveillance after diagnosis is recommended to monitor for dysplasia and diagnose and treat esophageal adenocarcinoma at an earlier stage. Patients with Barrett esophagus should be offered proton pump inhibitor therapy to control reflux symptoms and possibly decrease the risk of developing esophageal adenocarcinoma. Statins, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and aspirin are associated with a decreased risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma in patients with Barrett esophagus; however, they should not generally be prescribed in the absence of another indication. Mortality benefits of screening and surveillance are uncertain.

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