Definition & Facts for Barrett's Esophagus
In this section:
- What is Barrett's Esophagus?
- Are people with Barrett’s esophagus more likely to develop cancer?
- How common is Barrett’s esophagus?
- Who is more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus?
What is Barrett's Esophagus?
Are people with Barrett’s esophagus more likely to develop cancer?
People with Barrett’s esophagus are more likely to develop a rare type of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma.
The risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma in people with Barrett’s esophagus is about 0.5 percent per year.1 Typically, before this cancer develops, precancerous cells appear in the Barrett’s tissue. Doctors call this condition dysplasia and classify the dysplasia as low grade or high grade.
You may have Barrett’s esophagus for many years before cancer develops. Visit the National Cancer Institute to learn more about esophageal adenocarcinoma.
How common is Barrett’s esophagus?
Experts are not sure how common Barrett’s esophagus is. Researchers estimate that it affects 1.6 to 6.8 percent of people.2
Who is more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus?
Men develop Barrett’s esophagus twice as often as women, and Caucasian men develop this condition more often than men of other races.1 The average age at diagnosis is 55.3 Barrett’s esophagus is uncommon in children.3
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
(NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.