OncoLink

Barrett's Esophagus

Barrett's Esophagus

Question
Dear OncoLink:  
I am curious to know of any genetic studies of Barrett's esophagus. I now have two families in my practice that have three family members with Barrett's. They are of Irish ancestry and have names of similar origin. Any information would be appreciated.  
JB, MD


Answer
Kenneth Blank, MD and John Han-Chih Chang, MD, Editorial Assistants for Oncolink, respond:

Dear OncoLink Reader:  
Thank you for your question.

To the best of our knowledge there is no definitive proof demonstrating a genetic disposition to Barrett's esophagus. Barrett's esophagus refers to a pathologic change of the epithelium (lining) of the lower esophagus. The relationship between Barrett's esophagus and esophageal cancer is not clear but adenocarcinoma of the esophagus often occurs in areas along the esophagus where Barrett's is present. However, there are cases of adenocarcinoma of the esophagus without Barrett's esophagus present, but some feel this is because the cancer has overgrown the Barrett's.