Despite improved treatment, at least 300 people die a year in England and Wales from these conditions. In a study, carried out at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, doctors discovered that out of 971 people who died of IBD in 1993-95, 44 per cent had Crohn's Disease and 56 per cent had ulcerative colitis.
Almost one in five of those who died were under 50. Yet screening for these conditions is simple and cheap. The British Society of Gastroenterology recommends early intervention by family doctors. Its guidelines say: "GPs should not delay in testing for blood in faecal samples to diagnose IBD and cancers as early as possible, particularly in patients with a family history of digestive disorders."
Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Guidelines in Gastroenterology, free, from the British Society of Gastroenterology, 3 St Andrews Place, London NW1 4LB. Annabel FerrimanReuse content