Limitations of Heartburn and Other Societies’ Criteria in Barrett's Screening for Detecting De Novo Esophageal Adenocarcinoma

Tarek Sawas, Shawn A. Zamani, Sarah Killcoyne, Andrew Dullea, Kenneth K. Wang, Prasad G. Iyer, Rebecca C. Fitzgerald, David A. Katzka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background & Aims: Despite extensive Barrett's esophagus (BE) screening efforts, most patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) present de novo. It is unclear how much of this problem is the result of insensitivity or poor applications of current screening guidelines. We aimed to evaluate the sensitivity of guidelines by determining the proportion of prevalent EAC cases that meet the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) or the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) guidelines for BE screening and determine whether changes to criteria would enhance detection. Methods: A retrospective single-center cohort from the United States (n = 663) and a prospective multicenter cohort from the United Kingdom (n = 645) were collected and analyzed independently. Screening eligibility was determined as patients with chronic reflux and at least 2 or more risk factors as defined by the guidelines. We calculated the proportion of screening-eligible patients and then compared BE/EAC risk factors between screening-eligible and screening-ineligible patients using the chi-squared or Student t test as appropriate. Results: In the Mayo clinic cohort there were 54.9% EAC cases and in the UK cohort there were 38.9% EAC cases that were not identified by ACG or BSG screening criteria, respectively. Among patients who did not meet the screening criteria, lack of heartburn was observed in 86.5% in the Mayo clinic cohort and in 61.4% in the UK cohort. Other risk factors that were lacking included obesity (defined as a body mass index of ≥30 kg/m2) and family history of EAC. Eliminating chronic reflux from the ACG/BSG criteria improved eligibility for screening from 45.1% to 81.3% (P < .001) in the Mayo Clinic cohort and from 61.1% (n = 394) to 81.5% (n = 526; P < .001) in the UK cohort. However, reflux may be difficult to ascertain from the history, and by including proton pump inhibitor use status in addition to the BSG criteria, screening eligibility improved by 10.0% in the UK cohort (n = 459; P < .001). Conclusions: ACG/BSG BE screening guidelines have limited our ability to detect prevalent EAC. An optimized approach to identifying the individuals most suitable for EAC screening needs to be implemented, particularly one that does not rely on chronic reflux symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1709-1718
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Barrett's Esophagus Screening
  • Esophageal Adenocarcinoma
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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