The association of iron deficiency anaemia, post-cricoid webs and carcinoma is controversial. The main findings in a recent study which re-examined this problem are presented here. It was shown that the majority of patients with a post-cricoid web have evidence of iron deficiency but that only about 10% of patients with iron deficiency develop post-cricoid webs. Factors which might be important in the pathogenesis of a post-cricoid web have been looked for and a few significant points noted. The main findings were an increased frequency of angular stomatitis and edentia, thyroid disease and thyroid cytoplasmic antibodies in patients with webs compared with patients with iron deficiency anaemia without a web.
Follow-up studies in patients with a post-cricoid web or Paterson-Kelly syndrome show an increased frequency of post-cricoid carcinoma ranging from 4 to 16% in different series and the association is even more striking in patients presenting with post-cricoid carcinoma. It is concluded that the available evidence confirms the association between iron deficiency, postcricoid webs and carcinoma but the mechanism of the production of these changes is not yet understood.
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