Information for the public

The condition

The condition

Barrett's oesophagus is a condition in which there are changes in the cells lining the lower part of the oesophagus. The first sign of change is called Barrett's oesophagus with no dysplasia, meaning that the cells are no longer 'normal' but there is no evidence of dysplasia. The cells may then develop an abnormality called dysplasia (sometimes described as 'precancerous' cells). There are 2 types of dysplasia – low‑grade and high-grade. There is a small risk that these cells will become cancerous over time. The risk of cancer developing is greater with high‑grade than with low‑grade dysplasia. People who have Barrett's oesophagus with no or low‑grade dysplasia may be offered regular checks using an endoscope and taking a small sample of cells (a biopsy) to look for signs of high‑grade dysplasia or cancer. Several procedures have also been developed that aim to remove dysplasia, such as devices using laser or cold energy.

NICE has looked at using radiofrequency energy as another treatment option.

NHS Choices ( and NICE's information for the public about ablative therapy for Barrett's oesophagus may be a good place to find out more.

  • Information Standard