Investigating bowel cancer in IBD


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Looking at the number of people with IBD who develop bowel cancer, the people who are most at risk, and what medications may prevent it.


Identifying optimum surveillance intervals, high risk patients and potential chemopreventive agents could help reduce the burden of invasive testing on patients and healthcare organization authorities while still providing maximum clinical benefit to patients.

Dr Venkat Subramanian, Leeds University


What is this research looking at?

People with IBD have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer (colorectal cancer). The aim of this study is find out how often bowel cancer occurs in IBD patients, and identify the patients who are most at risk.  Colonoscopies are the main way of finding bowel cancer, so the researchers also want to find out how often people with IBD have colonoscopies, and how effective they are at detecting bowel cancer and saving lives.  From these findings, they will be able indicate how often colonoscopies miss bowel cancer and suggest how often these should be repeated to provide the most benefit, rather than over or under testing. Finally, the researchers want to look into whether commonly prescribed medicines that have been shown to prevent bowel cancer in the general population can prevent bowel cancer in people with IBD as well.

To do this, the team are going to analyse the data from people with IBD who are registered in a large UK wide database called ResearchOne.  ResearchOne contains the details of over 5 million people in the UK and contains extensive anonymous patient information including prescription records. This data will be linked to routinely collected hospital data (called Hospital Episode Statistics) and national cancer registry data to confirm how many people have had colonoscopy tests and how many people have developed bowel cancer respectively. 

The information gained by analysing this data will help provide information for patients and health care providers, and also help public health authorities understand the need for bowel cancer screening programmes. The researchers hope to identify the best surveillance levels, the patients most at risk, and medicines which could reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer.

What do the researchers think this could mean for people with IBD?

The researchers hope that this study will provide more information about bowel cancer in IBD, how best to detect it, and ways to prevent it. 

Who is leading this research? Dr Venkat Subramanian, Leeds University

Our Funding: £116272

Duration: 24 months

Official title of application: A study of colorectal cancer in inflammatory bowel disease. UK epidemiology, efficacy of surveillance and the potential for chemoprevention

Tags: Cancer