Ulcerative Colitis Linked to Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer

According to a story from WebMD, a recent study revealed that men with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other forms of inflammatory bowel disease are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. Ulcerative colitis is considered rare, but Crohn’s disease is not. Around a million males in the US have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Prostate Cancer Screening

The lead study author was Dr. Shilajit Kundu. The doctor says that men with ulcerative colitis or other forms of IBD may have be screened for prostate cancer more thoroughly than those without. Prostate cancer screening typically involves a blood test which a substance called prostate specific antigen (PSA). PSA is released by the prostate. Elevated levels of PSA is a possible warning sign for the presence of prostate cancer; however, it is not a diagnostic indicator, as PSA levels can also be elevated due to other abnormalities affecting the organ.

Study Results

In this study, 1,000 men that had ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s were monitored for 18 years alongside a control group of 9,300 disease-free men. The study revealed that men with IBD consistently had elevated PSA levels. Their risk of getting prostate cancer was magnified by four or five times in comparison to the control group. It should be noted that this study does not prove that IBD is a direct cause of prostate cancer, but it does suggest that it is a significant risk factor. 

Dr. Kundu says that doctors who treat men with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s are probably accustomed to seeing elevated PSA levels as simply a normal effect of inflammation, but this factor shouldn’t be dismissed so readily anymore.

Future Research

Dr. Kundu says that more research will be necessary in order to learn more about the connection between these diseases. In addition, it is unclear if there are certain precautions or approaches that may be necessary for treating prostate cancer patients who have a history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. 

These findings should be a valuable wake up call for men with inflammatory bowel disease to make sure that they are getting screened as necessary.

Check out the original study here.

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