Surgery for ulcerative colitis complicated with colorectal cancer: when ileal pouch-anal anastomosis is the right choice

Updates Surg. 2022 Apr;74(2):637-647. doi: 10.1007/s13304-022-01250-4. Epub 2022 Feb 25.


Patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) are at risk of developing a colorectal cancer. The aim of this study was to examine our experience in the treatment of ulcerative Colitis Cancer (CC), the role of the ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA), and the clinical outcome of the operated patients. Data from 417 patients operated on for ulcerative colitis were reviewed. Fifty-two (12%) were found to have carcinoma of the colon (n = 43) or the rectum (n = 9). The indication to surgery, the histopathological type, the cancer stage, the type of surgery, the oncologic outcome, and the functional result of IPAA were examined. The majority of the patients had a mucinous or signet-ring carcinoma. An advanced stage (III or IV) was present in 28% of the patients. Early (stage I or II) CC was found in all except one patient submitted to surgery for high-grade dysplasia, low-grade dysplasia, or refractory colitis. Thirty-nine (75%) of the 52 patients underwent IPAA, 10 patients were treated with a total abdominal proctocolectomy with terminal ileostomy. IPAA was possible in 6/9 rectal CC. Cumulative survival rate 5 and 10 years after surgery was 61% and 53%, respectively. The survival rate was significantly lower for mucinous or signet-ring carcinomas than for other adenocarcinoma. No significant differences of the functional results and quality of life were observed between IPAA patients aged less than or more than 65 years. Failure of the pouch occurred in 5 of 39 (12.8%) patients for cancer of the pouch (2 pts) or for tumoral recurrence at the pelvic or peritoneal level. Early surgery must be considered every time dysplasia is discovered in patients affected by UC. The advanced tumoral stage and the mucous or signet-ring hystotype influence negatively the response to therapy and the survival after surgery. IPAA can be proposed in the majority of the patients with a functional result similar to that of UC patients not affected by CC. Failures of IPAA for peritoneal recurrence or metachronous cancer of the pouch can be observed when CC is advanced, moucinous, localized in the distal rectum, or is associated with primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy; Ileo-anal–pouch anastomosis; Mucinous carcinoma; Signet-ring carcinoma; Ulcerative colitis.

MeSH terms

  • Anastomosis, Surgical / adverse effects
  • Carcinoma* / surgery
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / complications
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Proctocolectomy, Restorative* / adverse effects
  • Quality of Life
  • Rectal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Treatment Outcome