The CCFA believes that the removal of the colon for an ulcerative colitis patient is a “cure.” They further describe it as a choice after other medical options don’t work for a patient: “This operation involves the removal of the colon (colectomy). Unlike Crohn’s disease, which can recur after surgery, ulcerative colitis is ‘cured’ once the colon is removed.”
Is surgery a cure?
There has been a continuous debate within the IBD community on this topic. Research has shown that while there are benefits to the surgery, the removal of a vital organ can be very difficult on the body and the loss of the colon is one that not all have the ability to cope with.
Ulcerative colitis is a tremendously complicated disease. It has a wide range of symptoms; it can attack a person’s body in many ways and manifest itself very differently in each patient. Some patients may be affected physically AND mentally. As we have previously mentioned, each IBD patient is different and must find what works in their individual fight against the disease.
That being said, UC is mainly located in the colon and, for some patients, the removal of the colon may improve their lives. However, the loss of such an important organ may have significant consequences, as not all bodies can function well without this critical section of the GI tract. In this case, “cure” is a misleading term; not all patients will get the results the word insinuates.
The IIF’s stance on surgery being considered a cure for ulcerative colitis:
The removal of the colon is a serious surgery that can affect the body in different ways. As such, all other options should be exhausted before the decision of amputation of the colon is made. A colectomy for an ulcerative colitis patient may limit how the disease affects the body, but the body tends to work differently afterwards. Like many surgeries, nothing can be guaranteed – a patient must always weigh the risk that goes along with any surgery. It is each person’s responsibility to research affects and understand all possible outcomes after the removal of the colon for their UC.
The Intense Intestines Foundation believes that the removal of any vital body part, for any disease, is NOT necessarily a cure. The amputation of the colon is a medical treatment option that alters the way the body functions, sometimes with adverse effects. A cure is not something that has these impacts on the way the body works, it is something that corrects the body and restores health.
In engaging with patients in the IBD community, the IIF has found that some patients live very healthy and fulfilling lives following the removal of their colon. The active disease has been removed and their body accepts the surgery, which means ulcerative colitis will not return.
Other patients do not have the same results. The amputation of their colon may not give them a higher quality of living and their bodies might not function normally. Missing a major part of the GI tract and ulcerative colitis may affect their body in other ways. These patients don’t seem to have a reason to consider themselves “cured,” and continue to fight the disease’s effects.
Ideally, this topic would not be at the center of debate in the IBD community. At the IIF, we continue to support and hope for a full and complete CURE for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the near future.