Photodynamic ablation of high-grade dysplasia and early cancer in Barrett's esophagus by means of 5-aminolevulinic acid

Gastroenterology. 1998 Mar;114(3):448-55. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5085(98)70527-x.


Background & aims: The first therapeutic experiences with the conventional photosensitizer dihematoporphyrinester in the treatment of Barrett's esophagus show the curative potential of photodynamic therapy (PDT). The aim of this study was to test 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)-induced protoporphyrin IX, a photosensitizer with a high mucosa specificity without phototoxic side effects on the skin, as a new form of PDT.

Methods: Thirty-two patients (mean age, 68.5 years) with histologically proven high-grade dysplasia (n = 10) and mucosal cancer (n = 22) in Barrett's esophagus were treated. Four to 6 hours after oral ingestion of 5-ALA (dose, 60 mg/kg body wt), irradiation was conducted with a dye laser system (635 nm) with a light dose of 150 J/cm2. The patients received 20-80 mg omeprazole daily after PDT.

Results: High-grade dysplasia was eradicated in all patients (10 of 10), and mucosal cancer was eliminated in 17 of 22 patients (77%) at a mean follow-up of 9.9 months (range, 1-30 months). All tumors < or = 2 mm in thickness were completely ablated (17 of 17). The method-related mortality and morbidity was 0%.

Conclusions: Severe dysplasia and thin (< or = 2 mm) mucosal cancer of Barrett's esophagus can be completely ablated. PDT might offer a minimally invasive treatment modality as an alternative to esophagectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / pharmacokinetics
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Barrett Esophagus / drug therapy*
  • Barrett Esophagus / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluorescence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Precancerous Conditions / drug therapy*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology


  • Aminolevulinic Acid