The body is made up of many different types of specialized cells. Metaplasia describes a process where a group of cells change from one type of specialized cell into a different type of specialized cell.
Metaplasia can occur any where 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. The two most common types of metaplasia are intestinal metaplasia and squamous metaplasia.
Metaplasia is not a type of cancer but some types of metaplasia can increase the risk for developing cancer over time. For example, Barretts esophagus is associated with an increased risk for developing a type of esophagus cancer called adenocarcinoma.