GentleCure Blog

What is Metaplasia?

Doctor examining a patient's arm

Metaplasia is an abnormal change in a cell that is not commonly found in its surrounding tissue. This can be triggered by an environmental stimulus that forces the cell to evolve in an unnatural way. But is metaplasia cancer? The official metaplasia definition says no, but as seen in many metaplasia examples, it can develop into cancer after further changes.

Metaplasia Definition and Examples

Metaplasia in Greek means “change of form,” and in terms of the human body, refers to when cells transform from their original state into a mutated version. This happens when outside factors impose foreign or excessive stressors upon the body, prompting a dramatic change in an effort to adapt. What is squamous metaplasia? Similarly, this metaplasia definition involves a benign, non-cancerous change to a cell, usually located in the surface lining of an organ.

Examples of stressors that could lead to metaplasia include:

  • Cigarette smoke leading to cell damage in the airways
  • Bladder stones leading to cell damage in the urinary bladder
  • UV rays leading to cell damage in the skin

Metaplasia can develop slowly over time or at a rapid pace, depending on the severity of the conditions and affected area of the body. In the case of skin cancer, metaplasia is more likely to occur slowly, evolving as the patient ages and continues to see sun exposure.

Is Metaplasia Cancer?

Metaplasia is not cancer, though it can be a precursor to cancer. Metaplasia is defined as a premalignant condition, meaning that there is an increased risk of the cells developing into a cancerous state. This is most likely to occur for warning signs that go undetected or ignored over time.

On the skin, examples of premalignant skin lesions include:

  • Actinic keratoses: a rough, scaly patch that can resemble warts
  • Bowen’s disease: a red, scaly patch of skin that can itch, bleed, or scab
  • Keratoacanthoma: a raised skin lesion with a depressed center that can present on the hands, face, or ears

The best defense against metaplasia or any precancerous condition is to have it evaluated by a physician as soon as symptoms are detected. Early detection helps give patients better chances to find the right treatments in time.

Find Treatment for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

GentleCure is committed to helping non-melanoma skin cancer patients find the information they need to find the right treatment option. If you’ve recently been diagnosed and are looking for surgery-free treatment methods, call our Skin Cancer Information Specialists at 855-936-4411 to learn more about Image-Guided SRT.