Nonsurgical management of Barrett's esophagus with high-grade dysplasia

Rodney J. Pacifico, Kenneth K. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Endoscopic management options for BE with high-grade dysplasia consist of either surveillance methods or endoscopic mucosal ablative therapies. Intensive surveillance once a person is diagnosed with high-grade dysplasia may avoid an unneeded esophagectomy because it appears that most patients with high-grade dysplasia may not progress to esophageal adenocarcinoma. Only a single study has been presented that demonstrates that this approach does not lead to missed opportunities for intervention before progression to advanced stage disease [20]. This study excluded patients with cancer detected within 1 year of diagnosis of high-grade dysplasia; thus, patients who wish to proceed with an observation approach should be aware that the rate of missed esophageal adenocarcinomas ranges from 38% to 73%. The ability to observe a patient with high-grade dysplasia, however, does have appeal because a number of these patients appear to lose the high-grade dysplasia over time. The other endoscopic management option for Barrett's esophagus with high-grade dysplasia is endoscopic mucosal ablative therapies. These include the KTP:YAG laser, the Nd:YAG laser, photodynamic therapy, and endoscopic mucosal resection. All ablative therapies are used in combination with control of gastroesophageal reflux. This allows the esophageal tissue to heal in an environment that is conducive to squamous mucosa. Although most are relatively small series with short durations of observation, they all have shown some promise in treating BE with high-grade dysplasia. These approaches have the advantage of eliminating the problem. The patient who is being observed must live with the thought of developing cancer. Patients who undergo successful ablation are returned to a normal life. The combination of therapies such as EMR with PDT may be the most promising approach to BE with high-grade dysplasia; however, the long-term effects of ablative therapy are not known and continued surveillance is still advised for this group of patients. The choice of a nonsurgical approach for the management of BE with high-grade dysplasia is ultimately up to the individual patient. All patients must be carefully informed of the treatment effects, possible outcomes, and the surgical alternative. Most patients who select nonsurgical approaches are either elderly or are not good surgical candidates. The choice is often affected by local expertise, as surgical procedures should be performed in centers with surgeons expert in esophagectomy. Nonsurgical approaches should also be performed by physicians who are familiar with their application. Future advances in nonsurgical techniques such as new photosensitizers in PDT and improvements in diagnostic techniques may allow patients a greater opportunity to preserve their esophagus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-336
Number of pages16
JournalSurgical Oncology Clinics of North America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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