Squamous cell dysplasia in the proximal rectum of three patients treated for ulcerative colitis on immunomodulators

James G. Connolly, Stephen E. Goldstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Anal canal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL) is the precursor to anal cancer. Immunocompromised patients are at increased risk and disease is usually within 3 cm from the anal verge. High-resolution anoscopy (HRA) with an 8-cm anoscope is used to identify and guide cautery treatment of HSIL. Purpose: We report three patients with a long-term history of ulcerative colitis (UC) treated with systemic immunomodulators who developed proximally located rectal HSIL. Results/Outcomes: Two patients were HIV-negative women, 63 and 48 years old, and the third was a 51-year-old HIV-positive man with underlying UC for 10, 16, and 3 years, respectively. They each presented with a HPV-positive HSIL visibly extending above the limits of the anoscope used for HRA. None developed cancer. All had episodes of active UC. It is unclear what causative role systemic immunomodulators play in predisposing UC patients to proximal HSIL. HSIL probably developed on a tongue of HPV-infected squamous epithelium growing proximally over the inflamed rectum. Islands developed when areas of squamous epithelium degenerated, creating skip areas. Discussion: This study highlights the potential for HSIL to extend into the rectum either as a contiguous patch or isolated islands and the need for heightened surveillance in patients with extensive anal canal HSIL treated with immunodulator therapy. HSIL identified at the limit of the anoscope should be investigated further with colonoscopy, and argon plasma coagulation (APC) ablation can serve as an effective treatment option. Patients are at risk for stricture, but it is unclear what role the UC or the ablation played in stricture formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-756
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Colorectal Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2017


  • 6-MP
  • HPV
  • HSIL
  • Immunomodulators
  • Squamous cell dysplasia
  • Ulcerative colitis


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