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If A Relative Has Colitis Or Crohn's Disease, Am I More Likely To Get Either?

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Dr. Vijay Yajnik recalls the likelihood of a person getting inflammatory bowel disease if a relative is diagnosed with this condition. Dr. Yajnik is a physician at the Massachusetts General Hospital Digestive Healthcare Center’s Crohn’s and Colitis Center.

Dr. Yajnik:
Inflammatory bowel disease can occur anywhere from age 10 to age 80. Most common age of presentation is in their 20s and 30s. It is common to have a relative with inflammatory bowel disease if you get it. We think the numbers are as high as anywhere from 15 to 25%.

IBD has symptoms that are very common with other diseases. For example, abdominal pain is very common with other diseases; soft stool or diarrhea is often seen in other diseases. Because of these common symptoms, it gets unrecognized.

I think you need to come to a place like Mass General where we have a dedicated center where physicians only see inflammatory bowel diseases, surgeons only participate in inflammatory bowel diseases. We have excellent radiology, nutrition, nursing back-up. We also have new therapies that we’re investigating.

There is no cure per se, but we can induce patients into remission and maintain them in remission. That means that they would be free of diseases as long as they continue a medical regimen.

In the last few years several new genes have been discovered that describe the cause and the treatment opportunities in inflammatory bowel diseases, and I am so happy to tell you that Mass General has been leading the way in this. So we have opportunities where patients and their relatives can participate in ongoing studies that will help for future cure.

Dr. Vijay Yajnik, M.D., Ph.D.:
Dr. Yajnik's research interests include treatment of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and understanding the genetic basis of inflammatory bowel disease. He also has a laboratory based research mission in understanding cell signaling in lymphocytes, tumor and normal epithelial cells of the GI tract. He has published numerous articles and abstracts in journals as Cell, Nature, Oncogene and Molecular Cell Biology.

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