AGA Clinical Practice Update on Endoscopic Treatment of Barrett's Esophagus With Dysplasia and/or Early Cancer: Expert Review

Gastroenterology. 2020 Feb;158(3):760-769. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.09.051. Epub 2019 Nov 12.


Description: The purpose of this best practice advice article is to describe the role of Barrett's endoscopic therapy (BET) in patients with Barrett's esophagus (BE) with dysplasia and/or early cancer and appropriate follow-up of these patients.

Methods: The best practice advice provided in this document is based on evidence and relevant publications reviewed by the committee. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 1: In BE patients with confirmed low-grade dysplasia, a repeat examination with high-definition white-light endoscopy should be performed within 3-6 months to rule out the presence of a visible lesion, which should prompt endoscopic resection. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 2: Both BET and continued surveillance are reasonable options for the management of BE patients with confirmed and persistent low-grade dysplasia. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 3: BET is the preferred treatment for BE patients with high-grade dysplasia (HGD). BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 4: BET should be preferred over esophagectomy for BE patients with intramucosal esophageal adenocarcinoma (T1a). BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 5: BET is a reasonable alternative to esophagectomy in patients with submucosal esophageal adenocarcinoma (T1b) with low-risk features (<500-μm invasion in the submucosa [sm1], good to moderate differentiation, and no lymphatic invasion) especially in those who are poor surgical candidates. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 6: In all patients undergoing BET, mucosal ablation should be applied to 1) all visible esophageal columnar mucosa; 2) 5-10 mm proximal to the squamocolumnar junction and 3) 5-10 mm distal to the gastroesophageal junction, as demarcated by the top of the gastric folds (ie, gastric cardia) using focal ablation in a circumferential fashion. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 7: Mucosal ablation therapy should only be performed in the presence of flat BE without signs of inflammation and in the absence of visible abnormalities. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 8: BET should be performed by experts in high-volume centers that perform a minimum of 10 new cases annually. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 9: BET should be continued until there is an absence of columnar epithelium in the tubular esophagus on high-definition white-light endoscopy and preferably optical chromoendoscopy. In case of complete endoscopic eradication, the neosquamous mucosa and the gastric cardia are sampled by 4-quadrant biopsies. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 10: If random biopsies obtained from the neosquamous epithelium demonstrate intestinal metaplasia/dysplasia or subsquamous intestinal metaplasia, a repeat endoscopy should be performed and visible islands or tongues should undergo targeted focal ablation. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 11: Intestinal metaplasia of the gastric cardia (without residual columnar epithelium in the tubular esophagus) should not warrant additional ablation therapy. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 12: When consenting patients for BET, the most common complication of therapy to be quoted is post-procedural stricture formation, occurring in about 6% of cases. Bleeding and perforation occur at rates <1%. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 13: After complete eradication (endoscopic and histologic) of intestinal metaplasia has been achieved with BET, surveillance endoscopy with biopsies should be performed at the following intervals: for baseline diagnosis of HGD/esophageal adenocarcinoma: at 3, 6, and 12 months and annually thereafter; and baseline diagnosis of low-grade dysplasia: at 1 and 3 years. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 14: Endoscopic surveillance post therapy should be performed with high-definition white-light endoscopy, including careful inspection of the neosquamous mucosal and retroflexed inspection of the gastric cardia. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 15: The approach to recurrent disease is similar to that of the initial therapy; visible recurrent nodular lesions require endoscopic resection, whereas flat areas of columnar mucosa in the tubular esophagus can be treated with mucosal ablation. BEST PRACTICE ADVICE 16: Patients should be counseled on cancer risk in the absence of BET, as well as after BET, to allow for informed decision-making between the patient and the physician.

Keywords: Barrett’s Esophagus; Dysplasia; Endoscopic therapy; Esophageal Adenocarcinoma.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ablation Techniques* / adverse effects
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Barrett Esophagus / complications
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Barrett Esophagus / surgery*
  • Biopsy
  • Endoscopic Mucosal Resection* / adverse effects
  • Esophageal Mucosa / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Esophagoscopy
  • Humans
  • Metaplasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Metaplasia / pathology
  • Metaplasia / surgery
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Recurrence