Inflammatory Bowel Disease or ‘IBD’ can be difficult enough to live with, but many sufferers also worry they may have an increased risk of bowel cancer.
Some of the symptoms of bowel cancer are the same as those experienced with Crohn’s and Colitis. However, could IBD also increase your risk of developing this type of cancer? Below, you will discover everything you need to know about the link between the two conditions.
Are IBD patients more likely to get bowel cancer?
Studies have shown that those with IBD, do have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer than those who don’t. However, most recent studies have also shown that there are fewer IBD patients who are developing the cancer now, compared to previously.
You will be most at risk of developing bowel cancer if you have colitis in all or most of your colon. The risk is the same for those with Crohn’s in most of the large colon.
So, why does it increase your risk? It is the inflammation of the colon which causes concern. When inflammation occurs, it can lead to a higher turnover of cells within the intestinal lining. This in turn increases the risk of irregularities which could develop into cancer.
What is IBD?
IBD is a term used for two long-term conditions. These are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. With ulcerative colitis, it tends to only impact the large intestine colon area. However, with Crohn’s disease it can affect all of the digestive system.
It isn’t known what causes IBD, but family history, smoking, and immune system problems can increase your risk. You can also develop IBD at any age, though it tends to largely occur during the teenage years.
IBD Symptoms and treatment
The main symptoms of IBD include cramping and pain of the abdomen, chronic diarrhoea, fatigue, weight loss and swelling of the abdomen. You may also experience some nausea and vomiting. The symptoms may come and go, and they can also vary greatly in severity.
There currently isn’t a cure for IBD, but there are some great treatments available. In mild cases of ulcerative colitis, treatment may not be required at all. Some patients may also only need treatment when the condition flares up. It isn’t uncommon to go through long periods of remission where you experience no symptoms at all.
However, if you suffer from Crohn’s disease, surgery is more than likely going to be required at some stage. This is because over time, it causes damage to the intestines. There are different types of surgery that can be carried out. It will depend upon the severity of the damage caused to the bowel.
Overall, you will be at an increased risk of developing bowel cancer if you have IBD. However, you will be given more frequent screenings to ensure it is picked up early if it does develop.
You can talk through your concerns with Mr Woodward during an initial consultation. He will be able to assess your situation and reveal whether or not surgery would be a good option.