Gastroenterology clinic

Barrett’s oesophagus: does it matter?

Calvin Chan, Hank Chen



Most patients with heartburn do not have Barrett’s oesophagus and many of those who do will never develop cancer. Risk factors must be considered when deciding who and how often to screen for Barrett’s oesophagus.

Article Extract

  • Barrett’s oesophagus is a premalignant condition characterised by the replacement of normal stratified squamous epithelium of the oesophagus with metaplastic columnar epithelium.
  • Although it predisposes patients to oesophageal adenocarcinoma, in whom the frequency has increased sevenfold in the past four decades, most patients with Barrett’s oesophagus will never develop cancer.
  • The prevalence of Barrett’s oesophagus varies by geography and ethnicity. Although there are no Australian-based population studies, in other western countries the prevalence rate is thought to be less than 5%.

Picture credit: © ISM/SPL.