Endoscopic therapy of esophageal premalignancy and early malignancy

Thomas B. Nealis, Kay Washington, Rajesh N. Keswani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is an often deadly cancer with a rising incidence in Western countries. Chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease is associated with the metaplastic transformation of normal squamous epithelium to premalignant specialized intestinal metaplasia within the esophagus (Barrett's esophagus). Barrett's esophagus may progress to low-grade dysplasia (LGD), high-grade dysplasia (HGD), or even EAC. Although nondysplastic Barrett's esophagus progresses to EAC at a rate of 0.5% per year, rates of progression for true LGD and HGD are significantly higher. Treatment is mandatory for HGD and may be appropriate in select patients with nondysplastic Barrett's esophagus and many with LGD. Thus, accurate pathologic assessment is necessary before considering endoscopic therapy. Previously, only esophagectomy was offered to patients with HGD or EAC. However, esophagectomy has significant morbidity and mortality, and therefore endoscopic therapies have been advocated for early Barrett's neoplasia. These methods include endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) and ablative techniques. Ablation techniques include argon plasma coagulation, multipolar electrocoagulation, laser therapy, photodynamic therapy, radiofrequency ablation, and cryotherapy. Of these, radiofrequency ablation has experienced the greatest adoption for the treatment of dysplastic Barrett's esophagus because of excellent published outcomes. The use of EMR to resect suspicious areas or raised lesions is mandatory to provide histology. In contrast, ablation techniques such as radiofrequency ablation have been shown to effectively eradicate large areas of dysplastic tissue with relative ease but do not allow for histologic assessment of the treated area. Combination EMR with radiofrequency ablation is thus advocated to resect visible lesions via EMR (providing histology) and ablate the remainder of the Barrett's esophagus. As always, the appropriate treatment is best determined after careful discussion with patients in a multidisciplinary environment. However, endoscopic therapy offers an attractive alternative to esophagectomy for early Barrett's neoplasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890-899
Number of pages10
JournalJNCCN Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011


  • Barrett's esophagus
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection
  • Endoscopic therapy
  • Esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Radiofrequency ablation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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