Background: Radical oesophageal resection has until now been regarded as the gold standard for treatment in intraepithelial high-grade neoplasia or early adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus. However, the mortality and morbidity rates are substantial.
Design: A new therapeutic approach involving low-risk endoscopic therapy modalities was examined in the framework of a prospective study.
Patients: A total of 115 patients with intraepithelial high-grade neoplasia (19) and early adenocarcinoma (96) in Barrett's oesophagus.
Methods: Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) was used in 70 patients, and photodynamic therapy (PDT) was used in 32 patients. The two procedures were combined in ten patients. Three patients underwent primary treatment with argon plasma coagulation (APC). The average follow-up was 34 +/- 10 months (range 24-60 months).
Results: Complete local remission was achieved in 98%. The overall complication rate was 9.5%. Major complications, such as perforation and severe bleeding, did not occur. Minor complications included not haemoglobin relevant bleeding (drop of haemoglobin less than 2 g/dl) (5) and stenosis (3) after EMR, and long-lasting odynophagia (1) and sunburn (2) after PDT. In all, 13 patients have died so far, but in only one case due to the underlying disease. The calculated overall 3-year survival rate is 88%. During the follow-up period, a 30% rate of metachronous lesions was observed; endoscopic therapy was performed successfully in all but one of these patients.
Conclusions: These good acute-phase and intermediate results, along with low morbidity rates and no mortality, suggest that the organ-preserving local endoscopic procedure including EMR and PDT is an attractive alternative to oesophageal resection. Therefore, endoscopic therapy might replace radical oesophageal resection in future in cases of intraepithelial high-grade neoplasia and early mucosal adenocarcinoma in Barrett's oesophagus.