Approximately one in 10 people who suffer from regular heartburn develop Barrett’s oesophagus. In this condition the cells lining the wall of the oesophagus change from the type seen lining the mouth to that of the intestines. This change in the cells would be of no importance except that in a small number of people it leads to cancer. It is thought that about one in 20 people with Barrett’s oesophagus will eventually develop and die from oesophageal cancer. For this reason many people have regular surveillance endoscopy to detect precancerous changes when they can still be treated.
HALO radiofrequency ablation treatment
Professor Laurence Lovat and Dr Rehan Haidry at the London Gastroenterology Centre have been at detecting and treating these abnormalities for years. They are at the forefront of a new minimally invasive endoscopic treatment to reverse Barrett’s oesophagus. The treatment is called HALO radiofrequency ablation. They lead a team based at UCL which has coordinated treatment in more than 25 centres around the UK. This week their research was published in the leading journal Gut. They evaluated treatments in more than 500 patients around the UK and showed that it is now possible to completely reverse the precancerous changes in over 90% without the need for surgery. The treatment is continuously improving and outcomes are now 15% better than they were only three years ago.
Dr Haidry explains: “This new treatment is a step change for patients with Barrett’s oesophagus and precancerous changes. It is done as an outpatient procedure rather than a prolonged in patient recovery after surgery.’
Professor Lovat commented: “This new treatment means that surgery is simply no longer needed for most people with pre-cancer of the oesophagus. For me it is a dream come true. After more than 15 years working in this field, we have changed the paradigm. I am very proud.”
About the author
Professor Laurence Lovat is a consultant Gastroenterologist at The London Gastroenterology Centre. He treats conditions affecting the gut and upper gastrointestinal tract, specialising in gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s oesophagus and upper gastrointestinal cancer.
The London Gastroenterology Centre comprises a team of consultants who specialise in diagnosing and treating gut disorders in central London and Harley Street.