New Treatments Keep Ulcerative Colitis in Check

Novel biologics are able to control ulcerative colitis symptoms and prevent surgical intervention.

Although more patients are being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC), they are increasingly able to control their condition and avoid surgery, according to a new study conducted by Örebro University.

The study authors found that the number of patients with UC is approximately 10 times higher than it was in the 1960s, which may be the result of multiple factors.

Included in the study were more than 1000 patients with UC whose outcomes were examined between 1963 and 2010.

The authors discovered that more than 1 in 5 patients diagnosed with UC before 1975 required surgery, while only 12% of those diagnosed between 1991 and 2005 required surgery.

“The risk of having to undergo surgery is clearly reduced now. I would like to think that this has to do with improved treatments,” said researcher Carl Eriksson.

Today, patients are equipped with stronger treatments that can better control disease activity and symptoms. Many patients with UC are now treated with highly-effective biologic drugs, including infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), and golimumab (Cimzia).

Although new treatments can more effectively control disease progression and symptoms, the authors said that the number of patients with UC is troubling.

“There are 10 times as many sufferers from ulcerative colitis today as in the 60s,” Eriksson said. “Why there has been such an increase is an interesting question. One reason could be the fact that we do not smoke as much.”

Interestingly, the authors previously found that smoking can protect against UC; however, smoking can result in potentially life-threatening conditions, including cancer, and should not be used as a preventive measure.

The authors also speculate that healthcare providers are able to better identify patients with inflammatory bowel disease, which plays a role in the increasing number of patients diagnosed.

“More people are diagnosed since the examination methods are better today. But even if we account for that, there has been a significant increase,” Eriksson concluded.