Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment for Barrett's esophagus depends on the degree of dysplasia found in your esophagus cells and your overall health.

No dysplasia or low-grade dysplasia

Your doctor will likely recommend:

  • Periodic endoscopy to monitor the cells in your esophagus. If your biopsies show no dysplasia, you'll probably have a follow-up endoscopy in one year and then every three years if no changes occur. If low-grade dysplasia is found, your doctor may recommend another endoscopy in six months or a year.
  • Treatment for GERD. Medication and lifestyle changes can ease your signs and symptoms. Surgery to tighten the sphincter that controls the flow of stomach acid may be an option. Treating GERD doesn't treat the underlying Barrett's esophagus but can help make it easier to detect dysplasia.

High-grade dysplasia

High-grade dysplasia is thought to be a precursor to esophageal cancer. For this reason, your doctor may recommend:

  • Endoscopic resection, which uses an endoscope to remove damaged cells.
  • Radiofrequency ablation, which uses heat to remove abnormal esophagus tissue. Radiofrequency ablation may be recommended after endoscopic resection.
  • Cryotherapy, which uses an endoscope to apply a cold liquid or gas to abnormal cells in the esophagus. The cells are allowed to warm up and then frozen again. The cycle of freezing and thawing damages the abnormal cells.
  • Photodynamic therapy, which destroys abnormal cells by making them sensitive to light.
  • Surgery in which the damaged part of your esophagus is removed and the remaining portion is attached to your stomach.

If you have treatment other than surgery to remove your esophagus, your doctor is likely to recommend medication to reduce acid and help your esophagus heal.

Aug. 07, 2014