Barrett's Oesophagus Cancer

Barrett's Oesophagus Cancer Treatment with Photodynamic Therapy

Barrett's Oesophagus is a very common condition (0.5% of the UK population) due to reflux of stomach acid back up the gullet. Most patients with Barrett’s oesophagus have no long term problems, but about 10% develop pre-cancerous changes and a small number of these go on to develop oesophageal cancer. For pre-cancerous changes and early cancers (especially in elderly patients who are not fit for surgery), PDT is one of the simplest treatments as it can be delivered endoscopically (ie by using a flexible telescope that can be passed through the mouth) that does not require surgery and has few complications. If you have had an endoscopy for heartburn (acid reflux) and your specialist has told you that you have Barrett’s oesophagus with high grade dysplasia (pre-cancerous changes), then we recommend that you ask your specialist about PDT.

If you have Barrett’s oesophagus but without dysplasia, then your specialist will advise any appropriate treatment, but PDT is unlikely to be of value. However, there are some other new and experimental treatments now being offered, and none of the former PDT centres are offering PDT. We hope that this position changes, and that a handful of new centres can be opened that will offer PDT using either the Photofrin or ALA drug.