Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 301–323 | Cite as

Risk factors for Barrett’s esophagus: a scoping review

  • Colin J. Ireland
  • Sarah K. Thompson
  • Thomas A. Laws
  • Adrian Esterman
Review article



Cancer of the esophagus is a highly lethal disease with many patients presenting with metastatic spread of their tumor at diagnosis; a consequence of this late presentation is the 5-year survival rate of <20 %. Barrett’s esophagus (BE), a premalignant condition of the distal esophagus, is the main risk factor for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus. The development of a risk prediction tool that could assist healthcare professionals in identifying people at increased risk of developing BE would be advantageous. Understanding the factors that influence the risk of developing BE is the first stage of developing a risk prediction tool.


A scoping review was undertaken to address the following question ‘what factors influence the risk of developing Barrett’s esophagus?’ Forty-six articles were included in this review.


The majority of articles reviewed were case–control or cohort studies. Samples sizes ranged from 68 to 84,606. Risk factors reported to be statistically significant were divided into three categories: demographic, lifestyle and clinical factors. Strongest risk factors identified include: male gender, increasing age, white race, smoking, obesity and gastro-esophageal reflux disease symptoms, while some aspects of a person’s diet appear to act as a protective measure.


Risk factors for BE are complex and need to be considered by healthcare professionals when identifying patients that could benefit from endoscopic eradication. These results provide a stepping stone for the future development of a risk prediction model.


Barrett’s esophagus Scoping review Risk factors Cancer Risk prediction 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin J. Ireland
    • 1
  • Sarah K. Thompson
    • 2
  • Thomas A. Laws
    • 1
  • Adrian Esterman
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Nursing and MidwiferyUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Discipline of SurgeryUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.Sansom Institute of Health Service Research and School of Nursing and MidwiferyUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Centre for Chronic Disease PreventionJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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