epidemiology of ulcerative colitis

Last edited 07/2019

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is most commonly seen in late adolescence and early adulthood although it may occur at any age. A small peak in incidence after the fifth decade has been observed in some populations (1).

The condition affects both males and females equally (1).

There is an annual incidence of 5-8/100,000 in most communities of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon origin in north-western Europe, North America and New Zealand. The prevalence of symptomatic disease in north-western Europe is 70-150/100,000. This disease is very uncommon in Asia and Africa. As in Crohn's disease, familial clustering may be seen.

NICE state (2):

  • around 146,000 people in the UK with a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis (Crohn's & Colitis UK)
  • cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown
  • can develop at any age, but peak incidence is between the ages of 15 and 25 years, with a second, smaller peak between 55 and 65 years (although this second peak has not been universally demonstrated).