The role of dysplasia and aneuploidy as markers in columnar epithelium for malignant degeneration in Barrett's oesophagus was compared in a case control study comprising 38 patients with benign Barrett's oesophagus and 50 patients with Barrett's oesophagus associated with adenocarcinoma. Tissue specimens of columnar epithelium were reviewed for the presence of specialised columnar epithelium and the grade of dysplasia. Ploidy was determined using the method for formalin fixed paraffin wax embedded tissue described by Hedley. There was no significant difference in the frequency of specialised columnar epithelium between both groups. Dysplasia was found more often in columnar epithelium associated with adenocarcinoma compared with benign Barrett's oesophagus (p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis using logistic regression showed an increased risk of malignancy in Barrett's oesophagus in case of dysplasia (odds ratio 9.4, p = 0.003 for mild dysplasia and 33.1, p < 0.001 for moderate or severe dysplasia). Ploidy was not statistically significantly correlated with dysplasia. Aneuploidy or increased G2/tetraploidy proved to be an independent risk factor for younger patients (age < 65 years: odds ratio 44.7, p = 0.003). In conclusion, dysplasia and aneuploidy or increased G2/tetraploidy in columnar epithelium are independent risk factors for malignant degeneration. Patients with these risk factors should be offered a more intensive screening programme.
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