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Barrett’s Esophagus: A Comprehensive and Contemporary Review for Pathologists

Naini, Bita V. MD; Souza, Rhonda F. MD; Odze, Robert D. MD

The American Journal of Surgical Pathology: May 2016 - Volume 40 - Issue 5 - p e45–e66
doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000000598
Special Article
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This review provides a summary of our current understanding of, and the controversies surrounding, the diagnosis, pathogenesis, histopathology, and molecular biology of Barrett’s esophagus (BE) and associated neoplasia. BE is defined as columnar metaplasia of the esophagus. There is worldwide controversy regarding the diagnostic criteria of BE, mainly with regard to the requirement to histologically identify goblet cells in biopsies. Patients with BE are at increased risk for adenocarcinoma, which develops in a metaplasia-dysplasia-carcinoma sequence. Surveillance of patients with BE relies heavily on the presence and grade of dysplasia. However, there are significant pathologic limitations and diagnostic variability in evaluating dysplasia, particularly with regard to the more recently recognized unconventional variants. Identification of non–morphology-based biomarkers may help risk stratification of BE patients, and this is a subject of ongoing research. Because of recent achievements in endoscopic therapy, there has been a major shift in the treatment of BE patients with dysplasia or intramucosal cancer away from esophagectomy and toward endoscopic mucosal resection and ablation. The pathologic issues related to treatment and its complications are also discussed in this review article.

*Department of Pathology & Lab Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA

Department of Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the VA North Texas Health Care System

Esophageal Diseases Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the VA North Texas Health Care System, Dallas, TX

§Pathology Department, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Boston, MA

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Correspondence: Bita V. Naini, MD, Department of Pathology & Lab Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, P.O. Box 951732, 27-061C7 CHS, 10833 Le Conte Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1732 (e-mail: bnaini@mednet.ucla.edu).

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