Bethesda, Maryland (Dec. 1, 2005) According to estimates put forth in a study published today in the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) journal Gastroenterology
, more than 3 million Americans are living with Barrett's esophagus, a condition that leads to esophageal cancer, one of the most rapidly increasing cancers in the United States. These findings represent the first population-based estimates of the prevalence of Barrett's esophagus and show how frequently the disease occurs in people who do not have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), commonly thought to be a precursor to Barrett's.
"The definition put forth in this study of the prevalence of Barrett's esophagus in the general adult population represents a major step forward," said Richard E. Sampliner, MD, author of an editorial appearing in this month's Gastroenterology from the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. "The next step for researchers and practitioners is to focus on screening for Barrett's in people without reflux disease and accurately identifying those at-risk or living with the disease."
Beyond providing the number of people potentially affected by Barrett's, this study gives insight into those who might be most vulnerable for developing the disease. According to study findings, Barrett's was nearly twice as prevalent in people with symptoms of reflux and those who had esophagitis than those who did not. However, more than 40 percent of those who presented with the disease had no prior symptoms of reflux--giving credence to the theory that Barrett's can significantly impact people who present with no symptoms and that screening only those with reflux will not effectively capture all cases. The study also shows that alcohol consumption and smoking are significant risk factors for developing Barrett's.
"Barrett's esophagus is associated with one of the most rapidly increasing cancers in the Western World and to this point, dataPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
Contact: Kimberly Wise
American Gastroenterological Association
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