Inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer

Andreja Ocepek, Pavel Skok


Background: Colorectal cancer is one of the most frequent cancers in developed countries and Slovenia, and the incidence is still rising. Groups of people with higher risk for colorectal cancer are well defined. Among them are patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The risk is highest in patients in whom whole large bowel is affected by inflammation, it rises after 8 to 10 years and increases with the duration of the disease. Precancerous lesion is a displastic, chronically inflammed mucosa and not an adenoma as in cases of sporadic colorectal carcinoma.

Conclusions: Many studies suggest that the influence of genetic factors differs between sporadic and inflammatory bowel disease related colorectal cancer. Symptomatic patients at the time of diagnosis have a much worse prognosis. The goal of prevention programes is therefore discovering early precancerous lesions. Established screening protocols are based on relatively frequent colonoscopies which are inconvinient for the patient as well as the endoscopist. Use of specific genetic markers, mutations of candidate genes, as a screening method and a prognostic predictor could greatly lighten therapeutic decisions.


inflammatory bowel disease; Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis; colorectal cancer; genetic markers

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