How to perform research on IBD and colorectal cancer?

Previous studies have suggested an increased risk of colorectal cancer among persons with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease (collectively called Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)). Several attempts have been made to estimate the magnitude of risk, but researchers within the field are facing substantial methodological challenges.

The acknowledged journal «Gut» has recently published the paper The continuing uncertainty about cancer risk in inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers in The Clinical Effectiveness Research Group at the University of Oslo (Hans-Olov Adami, Mette Kalager, Michael Bretthauer, Louise Emilsson) have authored the paper in collaboration with colleagues in Sweden and the USA.

Challenges and solutions

The risk of colorectal cancer in persons with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has proven to be a difficult field of study. Results are difficult to interpret due to methodological challenges, thus no firm conclusions can be drawn. The paper outlines core criteria for valid studies of IBD and cancer risk, and critically review the existing literature in light of these criteria.

Improved treatment and follow-up

The authors describe knowledge gaps and contradictory results that make it difficult to develop evidence-based guidelines for this patient group. The objective is to stimulate investigators to undertake high quality research that overcome the outlined methodological challenges to facilitate improved treatment and avoid unnecessary examinations for persons with IBD.