Mayo Clinic LogoA latest Mayo Clinic study has found that survival rates of patients with Barrett’s esophagus, which can be a precursor for esophageal cancer, seem to be no different as compared to the survival rates for the general population.

Barrett’s esophagus is known to be most often diagnosed in people who have long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Supposedly, GERD is a chronic regurgitation of acid from the stomach into the lower esophagus. A diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus may perhaps be concerning because it raises the likelihood of developing esophageal cancer.

Lead author of the study, Ganapathy Prasad, M.D., gastroenterologist, Mayo Clinic said that, “Patients who are diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus often fear they will develop esophageal cancer and not survive long. Our research examined the survival rates of Barrett’s esophagus patients from Olmsted County, Minn., over the past three decades, compared to a control group of patients. We wanted to study overall survival, predictors of survival and ultimate cause of death in patients.”

For the purpose of the study, the authors recognized nearly 366 patients with a diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus from the year 1977 to 2006 with the help of the Rochester Epidemiology Project resources in Olmsted County. More so, they confirmed it through review of medical records. The average patient age was noted to be 63 years and comprised of 72 percent men and 18 percent women. Furthermore, only patients from Olmsted County were believed to have been selected in order to reduce referral and selection bias.

“Our population-based study found that Barrett’s esophagus patients are at no greater risk of dying than the rest of the population. Patients who receive this diagnosis should seek proper treatment and care, but should also know that their odds of dying from esophageal cancer are low,” elucidates Dr. Prasad.

The findings of the study revealed that survival data and cause of death seems to be determined from medical records of the 366 patients. In general, survival at 10 years after diagnosis appears to be 68 percent.

It was observed that causes of death included approximately 28 percent from cardiovascular disease, about 7 percent from dementia and nearly 7 percent from esophageal cancer. The overall survival of this group seems to be comparable to that of a control sample from the 2000 U.S. census.

The Mayo Clinic Barrett’s Esophagus Unit is known to offer a multidisciplinary approach in order to evaluate early symptoms, devise a surveillance schedule and perform all tests and medical and surgical treatments.

The findings of the study have been presented at the 2009 American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) Annual Meeting in San Diego.