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Living with Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s Disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects more than 700,000 people in North America. It's a chronic disorder with a variety of unpleasent and often painful symptoms.

A CNN employee recently described her experience of living with Crohn's disease for CNN.com:

"I have Crohn's disease, for which there is no cure -- a disease that requires a daily personal battle with things most of us prefer not to discuss with others. And for those who must deal with it, one thing is certain. It's horrible, it's overwhelming and it's humiliating."

As if living with the debilitating effects of Crohn’s isn’t enough, the inflammation associated with it and other inflammatory bowel disorders makes detecting cancer by colonoscopy difficult. As a result, people affected by Crohn’s disease are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. 

While patients without IBD should begin having a colonoscopy every 10 years at age 50, those with Crohn’s or other types of IBD are typically required to have colonoscopies every year beginning eight years from their initial diagnosis. Even with this increased surveillance, patients with IBD still have a five-fold increase in risk for colorectal cancer compared to average-risk patients.

While those suffering from IBD have an elevated risk of colorectal cancer, there are great resources available to help Crohn’s patients understand that risk. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) recently developed a webpage and brochure that specifically addresses the link between IBD and colorectal cancer.

One key takeaway from the CCFA:

"While … statistics are scary, keep in mind that most people with Crohn’s or colitis will not develop CRC (colorectal cancer). What’s more, despite the risk factors, CRC is highly treatable in the early stages … Knowledge of the IBD-CRC connection, along with annual screenings, may lead to early treatment, which can help reduce the potential life-threatening consequences of CRC."

At Exact Sciences, we’re working on better colorectal cancer diagnostics for those with IBD. We encourage suffers of Crohn’s and other IBD-related disease to get screened for colorectal cancer according to the latest medical guidelines.

For more colorectal cancer screening news and updates from the Exact Sciences team, sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Creative Commons image courtesy erictitcombe.

Topics: Colon Cancer Awareness

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