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Inflammatory bowel disease in a colorectal cancer screening population: Diagnosis and follow-up

Bezzio C, Manes G, Schettino M, Arena I, de Nucci G, Della Corte C, Devani M, Mandelli E, Morganti D, Omazzi B, Pellegrini L, Picascia D, Redaelli D, Reati R, Saibeni S.

Published May 2021, Digestive and liver disease


Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is usually diagnosed in subjects with gastrointestinal symptoms, but may also be asymptomatic and diagnosed incidentally.

Aims: to determine the prevalence of IBD in asymptomatic adults.

Methods: we identified subjects who underwent colonoscopy between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2019 in a regional colorectal cancer screening program with endoscopic findings suggestive of IBD, and retrieved their clinical, histological and therapeutic information.

Results: 5116 subjects underwent colonoscopy, and 4640 persons were considered assessable. Of these, 54 (1.16%) had endoscopic findings suggestive of IBD, including 40 of Crohn's disease (CD) and 14 of ulcerative colitis (UC). A definite diagnosis of IBD was made in 19 patients, for an overall IBD prevalence of 0.41%, with 13 cases of CD (0.28%) and 6 of UC (0.13%). The mean follow-up was 26.8 months after the first colonoscopy. Therapy was started in 5 of 13 CD patients and all UC patients.

Conclusion: Endoscopic findings suggestive of IBD are not infrequent in an asymptomatic colorectal cancer screening population. Visualization of the terminal ileum is recommended in this setting. A definite diagnosis of IBD was made in about 1 out of 3 subjects with endoscopic lesions. Most IBD patients had a mild form of disease, but some needed biologic therapy.

Keywords: Colonoscopy; Colorectal cancer; Diagnosis; Inflammatory bowel disease; Screening.


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