Ulcerative colitis (UC) is an inflammatory condition of the colon. UC occurs when the immune cells of the lining of the colon become overly active. While the exact cause is not known, it is felt to be a combination of a genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
UC presents with rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Varying amounts of the colon lining may be involved. UC always begins in the rectum and moves backward in the colon, towards the small intestine.
The treatment for UC involves the use of anti-inflammatory medications and sometimes immunosuppressants. UC is a chronic disease without a cure. It can be put into remission but can reoccur. For this reason, treatments are often maintained for long periods of time.
The presence of ulcerative colitis raises the risk of colon cancer with time. It is recommended that patients receive close surveillance with colonoscopy for this reason.