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"What is intestinal metaplasia?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat is intestinal metaplasia?


I have been having severe and chronic stomach and digestive troubles, so as part of the treatment course the doctors just took a biopsy. They say that the test results show 'Intestinal Metaplasia', and I understand that this is a warning of future stomach cancer... but what IS metaplasia? How do I fight it?


"Intestinal metaplasia" is also known commonly as "Barrett's esophagus." Basically, what happens is that the chronic irritation of the esophagus from heartburn or acid reflux disease causes changes in the tissue of the esophagus that predisposes it to future esophageal cancer. The technical name for this change is "intestinal metaplasia." There is not quick cure for intestinal metaplasia. It is important to prevent further damage to the esophagus by using a good anti-acid treatment as prescribed by your doctor.

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However, it is unlikely that preventing future acid reflux will make the Barrett's esophagus go away. Therefore, gastroenterologists recommend that those who have Barrett's esophagus undergo regular endoscopy, which allows the doctor to take a close look at the tissue in the esophagus and make sure that it isn't transitioning into cancer. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Maintaining regular contact with your gastroenterologist is highly recommended.

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