DDW: ‘Alarming’ Rise in Esophageal Cancer, Barrett Esophagus Seen in Middle-Age

Number of endoscopies performed not increasing, despite increased prevalence

FRIDAY, May 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — While the prevalence of Barrett esophagus (BE) and esophageal cancer (EC) appears to have plateaued in the elderly, it is increasing at a concerning rate in middle-aged patients, according to a study presented at the 2022 Digestive Disease Week, held from May 21 to 24 in San Diego.

Bashar J. Qumseya, M.D., from University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues used electronic health record data from the OneFlorida Clinical Data Research Network (2012 to 2019; 4.2 million to 5.4 million adult patients annually) to assess the prevalence of BE and EC based on age.

The researchers found that the prevalence of EC varied significantly by age group and was higher in the elderly group than the middle-aged group for each year. In the elderly group, the prevalence of EC was stable over time, but increased logarithmically from 49 to 94 per 100,000 in the middle-age group. There was a similar logarithmic increase in the prevalence of BE in the middle-aged group from 304 per 100,000 in 2012 to 466 per 100,000 in 2019. The rate of increase in BE prevalence was highest among those 51 to 60 years, followed by 61 to 70 years, and 41 to 50 years. Use of esophagogastroduodenoscopy was flat.

“This strong growth in prevalence should be of concern to physicians, and we should consider screening more middle-aged patients for esophageal cancer if they are at higher risk,” Qumseya said in a statement. “Whenever we see increasing prevalence of any type of cancer, we should ask whether this is merely due to better screening or it is a true increase in the disease prevalence. In our study, it was due to the latter.”

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