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Get answers to your Barrett's esophagus questions.
Barrett's esophagus does not cause symptoms itself and is important only because it seems to precede the development of a particular kind of cancer—esophageal adenocarcinoma. The risk of developing adenocarcinoma is 30 to 125 times higher in people who have Barrett's esophagus than in people who do not. This type of cancer is increasing rapidly in white men. This increase may be related to the rise in obesity and GERD.
For people who have Barrett's esophagus, the risk of getting cancer of the esophagus is small: less than 1 percent (0.4 percent to 0.5 percent) per year. The overall lifetime risk is estimated to be 5percent. Compare this to the lifetime risk of colon cancer in all individuals – 5-6 percent, or breast cancer in women – 12 percent. Esophageal adenocarcinoma may not be curable, partly because the disease is frequently discovered at a late stage and because treatments are not always effective.