Ulcerative colitis - Outlook

If you have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, you will want to know your outlook or prognosis. This is a prediction of how your disease will progress, which varies from individual to individual. For example, it may depend on the severity and extent of your disease, and how well you react to treatment. Your lifestyle may also influence the course of the disease.

It may help you at this stage to learn as much as you can about the condition and the treatment options available to you. Speaking to your doctor and asking questions will help. It might also be helpful to speak to others who are living with ulcerative colitis to find out about how they cope with the illness.

There are several international organisations dedicated to ulcerative colitis and IBDAn abbreviation for inflammatory bowel disease, a group of inflammatory conditions of the intestine. The two major forms are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. that will be able to offer help at what may be a difficult time for you and your family. A number of organisations around the world provide information, help and support for people with ulcerative colitis.

Many patients are young adults when they are diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. If that is the case you may still be at school, or about to start university or a new job. You may be concerned about the impact of the diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. on your family and friends, and how they will treat you. You may also have to make decisions about treatments, possibly including whether or not you will need to have surgery.

Ulcerative colitis may also be diagnosed in children, sometimes as young as one or two years old. As well as the usual problems, these conditions can slow down growth and delay puberty.

Having ulcerative colitis can be especially frightening for a child. Specialist support groups can provide more information on how children in particular are affected by IBDAn abbreviation for inflammatory bowel disease, a group of inflammatory conditions of the intestine. The two major forms are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. and treated.

Living with ulcerative colitis

The impact of ulcerative colitis

  • The severity of ulcerative colitis varies from person to person
  • Some people have a mild version and may not feel that unwell. Others have moderate or severe forms of the disease, resulting in more problems. They may feel generally unwell
  • This a condition where there can be periods of good health interrupted by flare-upsTerm to describe episodes when the symptoms of a condition worsen. or relapses of problems
  • In some cases, a severe flare-upTerm to describe an episode when the symptoms of a condition worsen. can even be life-threatening, especially if the colonThe large intestine. perforates
  • Medication can be effective at controlling ulcerative colitis
  • If medication is not effective, the usual treatment is to remove the large intestineThe section of gut, or gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the anus.. Once the entire large intestineThe section of gut, or gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the anus. has been removed, the ulcerative colitis is cured and there is no recurrence of the disease
  • Up to 20 per cent of patients with ulcerative colitis will need surgery
  • In some cases, surgery may mean that you need a stoma, an opening in the skin of the abdomenThe part of the body that contains the stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder and other organs. to which the gastrointestinal tractThe gut, which begins at the mouth and ends at the anus. is connected. This enables waste to be removed if it is not possible to reconnect the bowel where a segment has been removed
  • You may have a higher risk for cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. of the large intestineThe section of gut, or gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the anus. if you have ulcerative colitis
  • Emergency surgery may be necessary to deal with certain complications of ulcerative colitis.

Inflammatory bowel disease - Is there a risk of cancer?

Having an inflammatory bowel diseaseA group of inflammatory conditions of the intestine. The two major forms are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. (IBDAn abbreviation for inflammatory bowel disease, a group of inflammatory conditions of the intestine. The two major forms are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.) such as ulcerative colitis does not mean that you will also necessarily develop cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., but there is a slightly increased risk of developing cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. of the large intestineThe section of gut, or gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the anus., which depends on a number of factors:

  • How long you have had the condition (the risk of cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. increases after eight to ten years of having IBDAn abbreviation for inflammatory bowel disease, a group of inflammatory conditions of the intestine. The two major forms are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.)
  • The site and severity of the disease.

In addition, there may be an increased risk if you have family members with cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. of the large intestineThe section of gut, or gastrointestinal tract, from the stomach to the anus..

It is important to remember that the vast majority of people with ulcerative colitis will not develop cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body..

At some point in the course of your disease, you may be offered regular screening for cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body., including colonoscopyExamination of the colon and rectum with a colonoscope, an imaging instrument that is inserted through the anus. and biopsies. It is worth knowing about the risks, as it will encourage you to attend these appointments regularly, or ask for them if they are not offered.

Don't forget that early detection of cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. can lead to prompt and successful treatment.