The researchers investigated whether relatives of patients with Barrett's esophagus are at increased risk of having Barrett's esophagus.
They published their results in the May issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
A total of 100 first-degree relatives of patients with Barrett's esophagus completed the Reflux Symptom Questionnaire.
Those relatives with reflux symptoms, never previously investigated, were invited for endoscopy.
In addition, 100 patients with similar reflux symptoms, but no family histories of Barrett's esophagus, were enrolled as controls.
The authors found previously undiagnosed Barrett's esophagus (> 3 cm) in 8% of the 100 relatives from 53 families. Among the controls the incidence was 5% (adjusted OR = 1.58).
Including another 27 previously investigated cases, 10 of the 53 families had two or more cases of Barrett's esophagus.
|Incidence of Barrett's:|
| American Journal of Gastroenterology |
Barrett's esophagus prevalence increased with age and was associated with reflux symptoms of more than 10 years.
Furthermore, the condition was found to be twice as common in males.
Reflux esophagitis was discovered in 74% of relatives and 57% of controls without Barrett's.
Dr Yvonne Romero, of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, said on behalf of her group, "The risk of Barrett's esophagus in any one symptomatic relative of a patient with Barrett's esophagus was not statistically higher than in other persons with reflux symptoms.
"However, more relatives of Barrett's esophagus patients have reflux symptoms. This means that the overall prevalence of Barrett's esophagus and reflux esophagitis in relatives may also be greater than in the general population."
"In considering whether to screen patients with reflux symptoms for Barrett's esophagus, age and duration of symptoms are stronger predictors than having a relative with Barrett's esophagus," she concluded.