Long-term results of photodynamic therapy with 5-aminolevulinic acid for superficial Barrett's cancer and high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia

Gastrointest Endosc. 2005 Jul;62(1):24-30. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5107(05)00333-0.


Background: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) has proven to be safe and effective in patients with early neoplasia in Barrett's esophagus. However, long-term results in patients with high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (HGIN) or with early cancer are still lacking.

Methods: The aim of the study was to evaluate the efficacy of ALA-PDT and the survival of patients with early Barrett's neoplasia. ALA-PDT was carried out in 66 patients. Protoporphyrin IX induced by oral administration of ALA (60 mg/kg body weight orally applied 4-6 hours before PDT) was used as the photosensitizer. Acid suppression was maintained in all patients.

Results: Between September 1996 and September 2002, 667 patients with early neoplasia in Barrett's esophagus were referred for local endoscopic therapy. A total of 558 patients fulfilled the criteria for local endoscopic therapy, and 66 patients (mean [standard deviation] age 61.4 [10.2] years) with HGIN (group A; n = 35) and early adenocarcinoma (group B; n = 31) were treated by PDT. A total of 82 ALA-PDT were performed. A total of 34 of the 35 patients in group A (97%) and all patients in group B (100%) achieved a complete response during a median follow-up period of 37 months (interquartile range 23-55) (not significant). One local recurrence was observed in group A and 10 in group B (p < 0.005). Seven patients died during follow-up; but, all deaths were not tumor related. No major complications were observed. Disease-free survival in patients with HGIN was 89%, and, in patients with mucosal cancer, it was 68%. The calculated 5-year survival was 97% in group A and 80% in group B, but there occurred no death related to Barrett's neoplasia.

Conclusions: The excellent long-term results of PDT with ALA in patients with HGIN or mucosal cancer might offer PDT with ALA as an alternative to surgical esophagectomy and endoscopic resection, especially in cases with multifocal Barrett's neoplasia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Aged
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Barrett Esophagus / drug therapy*
  • Barrett Esophagus / mortality
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Precancerous Conditions / drug therapy
  • Precancerous Conditions / mortality
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Rate
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Aminolevulinic Acid