An Update on Surveillance in Ulcerative Colitis

  • Jimmy K. Limdi
  • Francis A. Farraye
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (S Hanauer, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Inflammatory Bowel Disease


Purpose of Review

Patients with long-standing ulcerative colitis have an increased risk for the development of colorectal cancer (CRC). Colitis-related dysplasia appears to confer the greatest risk. Colonoscopic surveillance to detect dysplasia has been advocated by gastrointestinal societies. The aim of surveillance is the reduction of mortality and morbidity of CRC through detection and resection of dysplasia or detecting CRC at an earlier and potentially curable stage. Traditional surveillance has relied on mucosal assessment with targeted biopsy of visible lesions and random biopsy sampling on the premise that dysplasia was not visible at endoscopy. Advances in optical technology permitting increased detection of dysplasia and evidence that most dysplasia is visible has had practice-changing implications.

Recent Findings

Emerging evidence favours chromoendoscopy (CE) for dysplasia detection and is gaining wider acceptance through recent international (International Consensus Statement on Surveillance and Management of Dysplasia in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (SCENIC)) recommendations and endorsed by many gastrointestinal societies. Adoption of CE as the gold standard of surveillance has been met with by scepticism, from conflicting data, operational barriers and the need to understand the true impact of increasingly higher dysplasia detection on overall CRC mortality.


Valid debate notwithstanding, implementation of a risk stratification protocol that includes CE is an effective approach allowing earlier detection of dysplasia and colorectal neoplasia, determination of surveillance intervals with appropriate allocation of resources and limiting morbidity from CRC and colonoscopy itself. Further prospective data should define the true and long-term impact of dysplasia detection with modern techniques.


Dysplasia Ulcerative colitis Surveillance Colorectal cancer 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Section of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Department of Gastroenterology, Institute of Inflammation and Repair, Manchester Academic Health SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Section of Gastroenterology, Boston Medical CenterBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA

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