Ulcerative colitis (UC)

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an autoimmune disease where the colon (large intestine or bowel) and rectum become inflamed.

Small ulcers can develop on the colon’s lining, and can bleed and produce mucus. The main symptoms of UC are recurring diarrhea, abdominal pain and a frequent and urgent need to empty the bowels.

Ulcerative colitis may be managed by a combination of drugs, including 5-ASA preparations, steroids, immunosuppressants and biological agents.

Unfortunately, medical treatment may not be effective in the management of the disease. When therapeutic treatments fail, surgical intervention is required. Up to 30% of patients will undergo surgical removal of the colon (“colectomy”).

Removal of the colon means that the gut terminates at the end of the small intestine, known as the ileum. Historically, the ileum would be attached to the wall of the abdomen (“ileostomy”), through an opening described as a stoma, and the contents of the gut would flow into an external bag.

Today, patients typically have further surgery and a new rectum constructed, using the ileum to create what is known as a pouch. This procedure was pioneered at St Mark’s Hospital, London, U.K. in 1978.

In 2016, there were an estimated 1.7m patients diagnosed with UC in the major pharmaceutical markets (source: Decision Resources).

1.7m

patients in the U.S. and Europe

30%

of patients will undergo surgical removal of the colon