Photodynamic destruction of high grade dysplasia and early carcinoma of the esophagus after the oral administration of 5-aminolevulinic acid

Cancer. 1999 Nov 15;86(10):1921-8.


Background: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a new local, endoscopically controlled therapeutic concept based on the selective sensitization of malignant and precancerous lesions prior to light-induced tissue destruction. 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) appears to be a promising alternative photosensitizer with a high mucosa specificity without phototoxic side effects on the skin. The authors report on their experiences with this new form of PDT in 27 patients.

Methods: Twenty-seven patients (6 females and 21 males; ages 47-79 years) with histologically proven high grade dysplasia (n = 9) and early carcinoma (normal endoultrasonography or classified as uT1N0M0; n = 19; 1 patient had 2 lesions) of the esophagus were included in this study. Approximately 4-6 hours after oral ingestion of 5-ALA in a dosage of 60 mg/kg of body weight, laser light irradiation was conducted with a dye laser system with a wavelength of 635 nanometers at a light dose of 150 J/cm(2).

Results: The length of the segment of the esophagus with severe dysplasia or carcinoma of the mucosa varied between 0.5-9.0 cm (mean length, 2.5 cm). High grade dysplasia was eradicated in all patients. In addition, 19 mucosal tumors in 18 patients were treated successfully in 10 of 19 cases with an average of 1.7 treatment sessions and a mean follow-up of 16.9 months (range, 3-37 months). Method-related morbidity and mortality were not observed.

Conclusions: Severe dysplasia and superficial (</=2 mm) mucosal carcinoma of the esophagus can be ablated completely by 5-ALA-PDT. PDT with 5-ALA has few side effects and might offer an alternative to esophagectomy or radiochemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Esophageal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photochemotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Precancerous Conditions / drug therapy*