Colorectal cancer in ulcerative colitis: Survival in patients with and without colorectal cancer symptoms

Francis M. Giardiello, Ahmet K. Gurbuz, Theodore M. Bayless, Steven N. Goodman, John H. Yardley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Patients with ulcerative colitis are at increased risk for colorectal adenocarcinoma compared with the general population. Although surveillance for colorectal malignancy and dysplasia (a premalignant lesion) has been recommended, a benefit in reducing mortality from colorectal cancer via surveillance or prophylactic colectomy is still being debated. We reviewed the outcome of 40 consecutive patients with ulcerative colitis with colorectal adenocarcinoma diagnosed between 1956 and 1991 at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The diagnosis of ulcerative colitis and the tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) stage of colorectal cancer were obtained from clinicopathologic records. Follow-up information was complete for all patients. Patients were divided into two groups: 18 asymptomatic patients who had colorectal cancer detected by colonoscopy, biopsies for dysplasia, or barium enema, or had undergone "prophylactic" colectomy as part of a colorectal cancer-prevention strategy (asymptomatic group), whereas 22 patients did not undergo cancer-prevention testing or prophylactic surgery and had symptoms of colorectal cancer (symptomatic group). Colorectal cancer was diagnosed at a statistically significantly earlier cancer stage in the asymptomatic group [12 (67%) of 18 at stage I or II] compared with those in the symptomatic group [two (9%) of 22 at stage I or II] (Wilcoxon test, p < 0.01). Colorectal cancer 5-year survival in the asymptomatic group was 89% [confidence limit (CL), 61-97%] and in the symptomatic group, 19% (CL, 6-39%). Patients with ulcerative colitis and asymptomatic colorectal cancer detected as part of a prevention strategy had malignancies that were less invasive and showed greatly increased survival compared with patients with symptomatic colorectal cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-10
Number of pages5
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • Asymptomatic
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Prevention
  • Survival
  • Symptomatic
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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