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Iron deficiency anemia and Plummer-Vinson syndrome: current insights.

Plummer-Vinson syndrome (PVS), a rare clinical condition, is characterized by a triad of dysphagia, iron deficiency anemia and esophageal web in the post-cricoid region. It was first described over a century ago. However, literature on this condition remains scanty, and its prevalence appears to be declining worldwide, possibly due to improvements in nutrition over time. The condition has been reported most commonly in thin-built, middle-aged, white women. The esophageal webs in PVS are thin mucosal folds, which are best seen either in lateral views at barium swallow or at esophagoscopy. These are usually semilunar or crescentic, being located most often along the anterior esophageal wall, but can be concentric. The exact cause and pathogenesis of PVS remain unclear, though iron and other nutritional deficiencies, genetic predisposition and autoimmunity have all been implicated in formation of the webs. Treatment includes correction of iron deficiency and endoscopic dilation of the esophageal webs to relieve dysphagia. PVS is associated with an increased risk of hypopharyngeal and esophageal malignancies. Correction of iron deficiency may arrest and reverse the mucosal changes and possibly reduces this risk.

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