Genetic progression of Barrett's oesophagus to oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

21 Nov 2017

Barrett's oesophagus (BE) is the premalignant condition associated with the development of oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC). Diagnostically, p53 immunohistochemistry remains the only biomarker recommended clinically to aid histopathological diagnosis. The emerging mutational profile of BE is one of highly heterogeneous lesions at the genomic level with many mutations already occurring in non-dysplastic tissue. As well as point mutations, larger scale copy-number changes appear to have a key role in the progression to OAC and clinically applicable assays for the reliable detection of aneuploidy will be important to incorporate into future clinical management of patients. For some patients, the transition to malignancy may occur rapidly through a genome-doubling event or chromosomal catastrophe, termed chromothripsis, and detecting these patients may prove especially difficult. Given the heterogeneous nature of this disease, sampling methods to overcome inherent bias from endoscopic biopsies coupled with the development of more objective biomarkers than the current reliance on histopathology will be required for risk stratification. The aim of this approach will be to spare low-risk patients unnecessary procedures, as well as to provide endoscopic therapy to the patients at highest risk, thereby avoiding the burden of incurable metastatic disease.