Crohn's Disease and Colorectal Cancer - What's The Link
By Sarah Jenkins
If you have Crohn's Disease, should you be more worried about developing colon cancer? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Many of the forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disorder (IBD) have shown an increase in the risk of colon cancer. However, having Crohn's Disease does not emphatically mean you will develop cancer; in fact, 90% of IBD patients do not acquire cancer.
A link has been shown to exist between Crohn's Disease and an increased chance of developing cancer; however, this risk is greatly increased if you have had IBD for an extensive period of time, such as 8-10 years, and it affects the entirety of your colon. If, on the other hand, only a small part of your colon is involved and you have not had the disease for a long period of time, you are less likely to develop cancer. Likewise, if Crohn's does affects other areas of your digestive tract and not your colon, you are at less risk. Unfortunately, inactive Crohn's Disease is just as likely to develop colon cancer as the active disorder. Therefore, the original onset of symptoms matters more than the frequency or intensity of flare-ups.
It is sometimes difficult to detect colon cancer in Crohn's sufferers as the early symptoms often mimic those of IBD. Diarrhea and rectal bleeding are common among Crohn's patients and may not cause concern. As an extra precautionary measure, you should see your gastroenterologist at least once a year if you have had Crohn's for more than 8 years. It may be necessary to have regular colonoscopies to identify any possible problems early. During a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist may identify concerns from the appearance of your colon, as well as take biopsies to further examine possibly affected tissue. Unfortunately, a colonoscopy is not guaranteed to detect cancer if it is present; however a colonoscopy with multiple biopsies is the most reliable means currently available.
If you particularly concerned about developing colon cancer, you should discuss your situation with your doctor, as well as do additional research on the subject. You should understand you will not necessarily develop cancer simply because you have Crohn's Disease. There are also support groups and agencies, such as the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), that are available to offer information and literature on the likelihood of developing cancer, as well as general information about your condition. The most effective measures you can take are regular doctors visits and healthy living to ensure ongoing wellbeing.
About The Author
Sarah Jenkins is an acclaimed writer on medical matters, and has written extensively on the subjects of Attention Deficit Disorder, Bird Flu and Crohn's Disease.
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