Pathology dictionary

Metaplasia

What does metaplasia mean?

Metaplasia describes a process where one type of specialized cells change into another type of specialized cells. Metaplasia can occur anywhere in the body. The type of metaplasia is given a name that describes the type of specialized cell that remains after the change has occurred. Another word for metaplasia is metaplastic.

Common types of metaplasia include:

  • Intestinal metaplasia
  • Squamous metaplasia
  • Oncocytic metaplasia
  • Tubal metaplasia
Is metaplasia a type of cancer?

Metaplasia is not a type of cancer but some types of metaplasia can increase the risk of developing cancer over time. For example, intestinal metaplasia in the esophagus is associated with an increased risk for developing a type of esophagus cancer called adenocarcinoma.

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This article was updated on December 23, 2021
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