Barrett's esophagus-related diseases remain uncommon in China

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Barrett's esophagus (BE)-related esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) has shown the fastest rise in incidence in Western countries; however, research data on BE-related diseases from China are inconclusive. We aimed to review and analyze the published results on these diseases in China. We searched PubMed and Chinese medical literature for key words: BE, EAC, Chinese and China. Relevant research papers along with the study results from our own groups were reviewed and analyzed. Using standardized criteria, columnar-lined esophagus (CLE) was found in as many as 29% of resection specimens in Chinese patients with proximal gastric cancer. However, BE with intestinal metaplasia was rare, ranging from 0.06% in the general population to <2% in referral patients. Risk factors included advancing age, hiatal hernia and probably gastroesophageal reflux disease and tobacco or alcohol abuse, but not male gender or obesity. At endoscopy, most CLE/BE were <2 cm in length, and appeared tongue-like and island-like. The long-segment BE was rare, especially in women. Population-based studies conducted in Taiwan and Hong Kong SAR, China showed that EAC was not only rare but also stable or had decreased in incidence over the past decade. By histopathology, EAC accounted for only 1% of all distal esophageal cancers and almost all gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancers were centered in the proximal stomach. BE-related diseases, except for CLE, are rare in China. The clinical significance and malignant potential of CLE in the Chinese population remain elusive. Further investigation on these diseases is in progress.

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