The researchers evaluated long-term non-surgical management of Barrett's esophagus with high-grade dysplasia (HGD).
They reported their findings in the June issue of Gastroenterology.
During a 20-year period, patients were diagnosed and observed through an organized surveillance program at the Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital.
Barrett's esophagus was diagnosed in 1,099 patients.
36,251 esophageal mucosal specimens were taken from these patients and reviewed.
|16% of HGD Barrett's patients developed cancer within 7 years.
79 of the 1,099 patients (7%) either initially had HGD (34 prevalent) or subsequently developed HGD (45 incident) without evidence of cancer.
Of the 75 HGD patients who remained without detectable cancer after the 1 year of intensive searching, 12 developed cancer (16%) during a mean 7.3-year surveillance period.
11 of the 12 who were compliant were considered cured with surgical or ablation therapy.
The researchers found that cancer did not develop in the remaining 63 HGD patients during the surveillance period.
Thomas G. Schnell, of the Edward Hines, Jr., Hospital, Illinois, said on behalf of the group, "HGD without cancer in Barrett's esophagus follows a relatively benign course in the majority of patients.
"In the patients who eventually progress to cancer during regular surveillance, surgical resection is curative."
"Surveillance endoscopies with biopsy is a valid and safe follow-up strategy for Barrett's patients who have HGD without cancer," he concluded.