High grade dysplasia of the oesophagus

High grade dysplasia means that there are severely abnormal cells in the inner lining of the oesophagus. This is sometimes called stage 0.

The high grade dysplasia is only in the top layer of cells lining the inside of the oesophagus (the epithelium). It has not started to grow into the deeper layers. 

Diagram showing stage 0 oesophageal cancer

High grade dysplasia can change to invasive cancer if you don't have treatment.

People with Barrett’s oesophagus have a small risk of developing these abnormal cells.


Removing the lining of your oesophagus is the main treatment for high grade dysplasia.

You have this surgery through a tube called an endoscope. You are asleep when you have it. The doctor puts the tube down your throat. They can then put a thin wire (snare) through the tube to remove the abnormal area of tissue. 

You might also need treatment to destroy any abnormal areas that the doctor has not been able to remove. This treatment is called radiofrequency ablation.

About other stages

  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th edition)
    American Joint Committee on Cancer
    Springer, 2017

  • Barrett's Oesophagus and Stage 1 Oesophageal Adenocarcinoma: Monitoring and Management
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), February 2023

  • Clinical endoscopic management of early adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus (screening, diagnosis and therapy)
    M di Pietro, MI Canto and RC Fitzgerald
    Gastroenterology, 2018. Volume 154. Pages 421-436

  • Oesophageal cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guideline for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    R Obermannova and others
    Annals of Oncology, 2022. Volume 33. Pages 992-1004

  • Principles and practice of oncology (12th edition)
    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer, 2023

  • Oesophageal cancer
    EC Smyth and others
    Nature Reviews Disease Primers, 2017. Volume 3. Pages 1-44

Last reviewed: 
18 Aug 2023
Next review due: 
18 Aug 2026

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