Stage 0 (high grade dysplasia)

Stage 0 means that there are severely abnormal cells in the inner lining of the oesophagus. Doctors sometimes call this high grade dysplasia (HGD). Or rarely, they call it carcinoma in situ (CIS).

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 are at a small risk of developing these abnormal cells.


The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • where the cancer is
  • other health conditions that you have

Removing the lining of your oesophagus is the main treatment for stage 0.

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. This surgery is endoscopic mucosal resection or EMR.

You might also need other treatments to destroy any abnormal areas that the doctor has not been able to remove. These treatments include

  • Photodynamic therapy – light therapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation – heat treatment

About other stages

Last reviewed: 
29 Nov 2019
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (7th edition)
    American Joint Committee on Cancer
    Springer, 2010

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2014

  • ESMO, oesophageal cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    Ann Oncol. 2013 Oct;24 Suppl 6:vi51-6.

  • Principles and practice of oncology (9th edition)
    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2011

  • TNM Classification of Malignant Tumours (7th edition)
    LH Sobin, MK Gospodarowicz, Ch. Wittekind
    International Union Against Cancer
    John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2009

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