Ablation of Barrett's oesophagus: towards improved outcomes for oesophageal cancer?

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    Barrett's oesophagus is the major risk factor for the development of oesophageal adenocarcinoma. The management of Barrett's oesophagus entails treating reflux symptoms with acid-suppressing medication or surgery (fundoplication). However, neither form of anti-reflux therapy produces predictable regression, or prevents cancer development. Patients with Barrett's oesophagus usually undergo endoscopic surveillance, which aims to identify dysplastic changes or cancer at its earliest stage, when treatment outcomes should be better. Alternative endoscopic interventions are now available and are suggested for the treatment of early cancer and prevention of progression of Barrett's oesophagus to cancer. Such treatments could minimize the risks associated with oesophagectomy. The current status of these interventions is reviewed. Various endoscopic interventions have been described, but with long-term outcomes uncertain, they remain somewhat controversial. Radiofrequency ablation of dysplastic Barrett's oesophagus might reduce the risk of cancer progression, although cancer development has been reported after this treatment. Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) allows a 1.5-2cm diameter piece of oesophageal mucosa to be removed. This provides better pathology for diagnosis and staging, and if the lesion is confined to the mucosa and fully excised, EMR can be curative. The combination of EMR and radiofrequency ablation has been used for multifocal lesions, but long-term outcomes are unknown. The new endoscopic interventions for Barrett's oesophagus and early oesophageal cancer have the potential to improve clinical outcomes, although evidence that confirms superiority over oesphagectomy is limited. Longer-term outcome data and data from larger cohorts are required to confirm the appropriateness of these procedures.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)592-598
    Number of pages7
    JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


    • Ablation
    • Barrett's oesophagus
    • Endoscopic therapy
    • Mucosal resection
    • Oesophageal adenocarcinoma


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