Risk of cancer and early deaths were high among individuals who have inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) from their childhood.
For the Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics
study, researchers in Denmark and Finland followed 6,689 patients diagnosed with UC or CD before 18 years of age. Over a median follow-up of 9.6 years (when patients had a median age of 22.3 years), 72 patients developed cancer and 65 died. Most cancers were in the small or large intestine, but there were also cases of lymphomas and skin melanomas.
‘Cancer screening and mental health assessment should be done for all young patients who developed UC or CD before 18 years of age.’
Patients diagnosed with UC during childhood had a 2.5-times higher risk of developing cancer and a 3.7-times higher risk of dying during follow-up compared with the general population. For CD, the risk was 2.6-times higher for cancer and 2.2-times higher for death compared with the general population. The main causes of death were cancer, suicide, and infections.
The findings stress the importance of cancer surveillance for young patients with UC or CD. Also, the increased risk of suicide found in the study points to the need to assess patients' mental health.