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Dig Liver Dis. 2003 Sep;35(9):628-34.

Colorectal cancer and high grade dysplasia complicating ulcerative colitis in Italy. A retrospective co-operative IG-IBD study.

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  • 1Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and Surgery F. Magrassi-A. Lanzara, Second University of Napoli, Piazza Miraglia 2, Naples 80138, Italy. gabriele.riegler@unina2.it



Ulcerative colitis is a well-known risk factor for colorectal cancer.


To take a census of the cases of colorectal cancer in ulcerative colitis patients observed in Italy and to evaluate the clinical presentation of neoplastic complication.


Experts from 28 Italian centres specialised in the management of inflammatory bowel disease or malignancies participated to the study. They were invited to send clinical data of patients with ulcerative colitis complicated by colorectal cancer or high-grade dysplasia consecutively observed between 1985 and 2000. One hundred and twelve patients (92 with cancer and 20 with high-grade dysplasia) were collected. Fourteen of them had undergone colectomy and ileo-rectal anastomosis for ulcerative colitis. Data of surgical patients were analysed separately.


The mean age at diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer patients was 39.3 and 53.2 years, respectively, and the mean duration between diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and cancer was 13.9 years (range 0-53). Inflammation was proximal to the splenic flexure in 71 cases (76.3%). One hundred and three colorectal cancers were registered (93 patients with single lesion and five patients with two synchronous cancers), with 76.7% of cancers being located in the left colon. As to the surgical patients, the mean age at diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and cancer was 28.9 and 47.0 years, respectively, and the mean diagnostic interval for ulcerative colitis and cancer was 18.1 years. Only 51 out of 112 patients were in follow-up. An early diagnosis of neoplasia (high grade dysplasia, stage A or B sec. Dukes) occurred in 72.5% of patients who were subjected to endoscopic surveillance and in 48.0% of patients who did not undergo endoscopic surveillance (p=0.02).


These data show an earlier diagnosis of cancer in patients who had undergone endoscopic surveillance. The poor compliance to the follow-up program, however, reduces its effectiveness. Moreover, total colectomy allows an easier follow-up, with only the rectum being controlled. Colectomy with ileo-rectal anastomosis or proctocolectomy with ileo-anal anastomosis, could represent a valid alternative in patients at high risk of cancer who refuse endoscopic surveillance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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