Missed Opportunities: the Timing and Frequency of Screening Colonoscopy in Patients That Develop Esophageal Adenocarcinoma.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of gastrointestinal surgery : official journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract


oregon; portland; ppmc; Male; Humans; Female; Retrospective Studies; Gastroesophageal Reflux; Esophageal Neoplasms; Barrett Esophagus; Adenocarcinoma; Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal; Colonoscopy


INTRODUCTION: Screening colonoscopy (SC) is widely accepted and has been shown to decrease the rate of colorectal cancer death. Guidelines and acceptance of screening for Barrett's esophagus (BE) are less established despite the fact that esophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) remains the fastest increasing cancer in the USA. The aim of this study was to assess the timing and frequency of SC in patients ultimately found to have EA and to evaluate the presence of symptoms and risk factors that might have prompted an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) and potentially earlier diagnosis of the EA.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review was performed to identify all patients who were referred to a single center with esophageal cancer between July 2016 and November 2022. Patients with any histology other than adenocarcinoma were excluded.

RESULTS: There were 221 patients referred with EA. Of these, a SC had been done prior to the diagnosis of EA in 108 patients (49%): 96 men and 12 women. A total of 203 SC had been done (range 1-7 per patient), and 47% of patients had more than 1 SC. The median interval from the last SC to the diagnosis of EA was 2.9 years. At the time of SC, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms or chronic acid suppression medication use was reported by 81% of patients, and 80% had an American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) indication for a screening EGD. Only 19 patients (18%) that had a SC had an EGD at any time prior to the diagnosis of EA, and in these patients, 74% had erosive esophagitis or BE. The EA in most patients was stage III or IV and associated with lymph node metastases.

CONCLUSIONS: Nearly one-half of patients ultimately diagnosed with EA had one or more SCs, and most of these patients had GERD symptoms, were using acid suppression medications or had an ASGE indication for a screening EGD. Despite this, only 18% had an EGD prior to the EA diagnosis. The addition of an EGD at the time of SC in these patients may have allowed the detection of BE or EA at an early, endoscopically curable stage and represents a missed opportunity to intervene in the natural history of this disease.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Digestive Health