I have Crohn's disease. Am I at increased risk of colon cancer, and if so, how often to I need to be screened for colon cancer?
For years, it has been recognized that patients with longstanding ulcerative colitis were at increased risk for developing colon cancer, and therefore needed to undergo surveillance colonoscopy more frequent than the general population. Patients with left-sided ulcerative colitis for more than twenty years, and those with pancolitis for more than 10 years, were need yearly colonoscopies.
About fifteen years ago, research showed that patients with Crohn's disease that involved the colon were at similar increased risk of colon cancer and should be surveyed more frequently as well. Crohn's disease of the small bowel, although it may minimally increase the risk of small bowel cancer, does not require surveillance small bowel examinations at this time. If you do have colonic involvement with Crohn's, check with your doctor to see that you are being properly screened for colon cancer.