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What Is The Prognosis for People With Crohn's Disease?

Crohn's Disease Is Typically A Lifelong, Chronic Condition


Updated June 04, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What Is The Prognosis for People With Crohn's Disease?

Answer: Crohn's disease is an incurable form of inflammatory bowel disease. The prognosis for Crohn's disease is variable -- some people will experience only mild disease, while others will live with severe disease. However, Crohn's disease does not shorten a person's lifespan. It is not considered a fatal condition, and most patients achieve remission with drug therapy.

Complete resolution of Crohn's disease after one flare-up is extremely rare, and most who are diagnosed with the disease experience periods of active disease (flare-ups) and periods of remission (where there are few or no symptoms).

Most people who have Crohn's disease will have surgery at some point in their lives. About 70% will have surgery in the first 10 years after diagnosis, and of those, 50% will have more surgery in 3 to 4 years.

People who have IBD have a five times greater risk of developing colon cancer than people in the general population. People with Crohn's disease of the small intestine are also at increased risk of small bowel cancer, although this type of cancer is extremely rare. However, more than 90% of people with IBD will never develop cancer. Regular screening with colonoscopy can help to prevent premature death.


Bernell O, et al. "Risk factors for surgery and postoperative recurrence in Crohn's disease." Ann Surg January 2000;231:38-45. 24 Apr 2010.

Canavan C, Abrams KR, Mayberry J. "Meta-analysis: colorectal and small bowel cancer risk in patients with Crohn's disease." Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006;23:1097–1104. 24 Apr 2010.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Crohn's Disease." The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse Feb 2006. 24 Apr 2010.

Sachar DB, Walfish AE. "Crohn's Disease." The Merck Manual Aug 2006. 24 Apr 2010.


  1. About.com
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  3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  4. Crohn's Disease
  5. CD--Beyond Basics
  6. What Is The Prognosis for People With Crohn's Disease?

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