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January 1981

Time Bomb of Lye Ingestion?

Am J Dis Child. 1981;135(1):17-18. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1981.02130250005002

It is widely recognized that the ingestion of lye is a frequent cause of esophageal stenosis that necessitates lifelong bougie dilation or resection with replacement, commonly by colon. What is less appreciated is the possibility that at the site of stenosis, after a long latency, squamous cell carcinoma may develop. This possibility is the subject of this Marginal Comment.

Accidental lye ingestion has perhaps been most commonly reported from Finland, where 10% to 30% lye solutions were widely used for washing purposes. The similarity of these solutions to milk has led to frequent accidental ingestion by children and is occasionally used for suicidal purposes. The development of carcinoma at the site of stricture, although described as early as 1941, has not been frequently commented on. Appleqvist and Salmo estimate that some 70 cases have been reported in the past, but they extract from their 2,414 cases of esophageal cancers 63