Risk of anorectal cancer in patients with Crohn's disease and perianal fistula: a nationwide Danish cohort study

Alaa El-Hussuna*, Camilla Engel Lemser, Aske Thorn Iversen, Kristine Højgaard Allin, Tine Jess


Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Aim: Patients with Crohn's disease (CD) often suffer from perianal fistulizing disease. Their risk of anorectal cancer remains uncertain. We aimed to examine the long-term risk of anorectal cancer in a population-based cohort of CD patients with anorectal fistula.

Method: Our study population covered all individuals (n = 7 987 520) aged 15+ years living in Denmark from 1978 to 2018. We identified all patients with CD and anorectal fistula in the Danish National Patient Register (NPR) and 50 matched noninflammatory bowel disease (IBD) individuals from the general population. Using Cox regression analyses, we examined the risk of anorectal cancer in CD fistula patients versus non-IBD individuals. All patients with CD were identified using codes from the International Classification of Diseases and their data extracted from the NPR. The main outcome measure was cases of anorectal cancer.

Results: A total of 2786 CD patients with anorectal fistula and 139 300 non-IBD individuals were followed for 1 553 917 person-years. During follow-up, anorectal cancer was observed in 19 CD patients (0.68%) and 340 non-IBD individuals (0.24%), corresponding to a 2.9-fold increased hazard ratio (HR) of anorectal cancer in CD fistula patients (95% CI 1.80-4.53), with a particularly high risk of anal cancer (HR 15.13, 95% CI 6.88-33.31) and a mean time from CD fistula diagnosis to anorectal cancer of 6.7 (SD 6.5) years. The risk was slightly higher in women than men and had no apparent relation to treatment with tumour necrosis factor-α inhibitors. Sensitivity analyses using CD nonfistula patients for comparison revealed similar results. Individual data on smoking and infection with human papilloma virus were not available.

Conclusion: Patients with CD and anorectal fistula have a three-fold increased risk of anorectal cancer compared with the general population. The number needed to surveil to detect one case of anorectal cancer in this patient population was 2160 patients per year in patients with long-standing fistula (>6 years).
TidsskriftColorectal Disease
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)1453-1459
Antal sider7
StatusUdgivet - jul. 2023

Bibliografisk note

© 2023 Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland.


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