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A peptic ulcer, also known as PUD or peptic ulcer disease, is the most common ulcer of an area of the gastrointestinal tract that is usually acidic and thus extremely painful. It is defined as mucosal erosions equal to or greater than 0.5 cm. As many as 70–90% of such ulcers are associated with Helicobacter pylori, a spiral-shaped bacterium that lives in the acidic environment of the stomach; however, only 40% of those cases go to a doctor. Ulcers can also be caused or worsened by drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs.
Four times as many peptic ulcers arise in the duodenum—the first part of the small intestine, just after the stomach—as in the stomach itself. About 4% of stomach ulcers are caused by a malignant tumor, so multiple biopsies are needed to exclude cancer. Duodenal ulcers are generally benign.
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