Ulcerative Colitis and Non-colorectal Cancer

Li Liu, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
I learned from your site (and others) that ulcerative colitis is associated with colorectal cancer. My question is whether ulcerative colitis could cause other malignancies.  
Thank you.

Li Liu, MD, OncoLink editorial assistant, responds:

Dear M
Thank you for your interest and question.

The association between ulcerative colitis (UC) and extracolonic malignancies remains under investigation. Several malignancies besides colorectal cancer have been reported to be associated with UC: leukemia (J Clin Gastroenterol 1984 Feb; 6(1): 33-5), including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, bile duct carcinoma, bone tumors, endometrial cancer (Cancer 1986 Oct 1; 58(7): 1569-74), and cancer of the liver and gallbladder (Gut 1982 Jun;23(6):490-7). In a recent study, researchers from Italy demonstrated that patients with UC have more than a ninefold increased risk of Hodgkin's disease compared with the general population (Gastroenterology 2000 Sep; 119(3): 647-53). The association demonstrated in this study could be a specific feature of Mediterranean populations, as no similar results were reported in larger population-based studies in other part of the world. In any case, patients with UC should be monitored by their physicians for the potential risk of colorectal and non-colorectal cancer development.