How gastroenterologists screen for colonic cancer in ulcerative colitis: an analysis of performance

Gastrointest Endosc. 2000 Feb;51(2):123-8. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5107(00)70405-6.


Background: The aim of this study was to assess the colorectal cancer surveillance practices of British gastroenterologists for patients with ulcerative colitis.

Methods: A questionnaire that investigated aspects of surveillance in patients with ulcerative colitis was mailed to all consultant gastroenterologists in the U.K. (n = 413).

Results: Three hundred forty-one questionnaires were returned (response rate 83%). Ninety-four percent of consultants practice cancer surveillance in ulcerative colitis, with 35% maintaining a registry of patients in surveillance programs. All gastroenterologists perform surveillance in patients with pancolitis, 24% in those with left-sided colitis and 2% in patients with proctitis. The mean duration of disease before surveillance is commenced is 9.2 years for pancolitis and 12.4 years for left-sided colitis (p < 0.0001). Only 4% of gastroenterologists routinely offer patients with disease of more than 10 years' duration a prophylactic colectomy. Colonoscopies are conducted by an accredited gastroenterologist in 65% of cases and biopsies are reviewed by specialists in gastrointestinal pathology in 45%. When histology reveals low-grade dysplasia only 4% advise colectomy and when high-grade dysplasia is found 53% recommend colectomy. Sixteen percent of gastroenterologists were unaware of the significance of a dysplasia associated lesion or mass.

Conclusion: The majority of gastroenterologists practice surveillance on a disorganized basis. There is inconsistency in the management of patients with dysplasia and education of gastroenterologists is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / complications*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Colon / pathology
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Gastroenterology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, District
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom