Background and Aims: Ulcerative colitis (UC) is regarded as a rare disease in developing countries, but accurate data are generally lacking. We performed the present study to evaluate the incidence and prevalence of UC in Korea.
Methods: A retrospective study was performed from 1986 to 1997 in the Songpa-Kangdong district of Seoul, Korea. To recruit UC patients as completely as possible, multiple information sources including all medical facilities in the study area and three referral centres located nearby, but outside the study area were used. The incidence and prevalence rates were adjusted using the 1997 Korean population statistics.
Results: During the study period, a total of 94 incident cases were identified, for an adjusted mean annual incidence rate of 0.68 per 100 000 inhabitants. On 31 December 1997, 91 patients with UC lived in the study area, giving an adjusted prevalence rate of 7.57 per 100 000 inhabitants. By using the Poisson regression analysis, the annual incidence rate increased significantly from 0.20 per 100 000 inhabitants in 1986–1988 to 1.23 per 100 000 inhabitants in 1995–1997 (P < 0.005). Patient age at diagnosis, the interval from onset of symptoms to diagnosis, and the disease extent at diagnosis were fairly constant throughout the study period.
Conclusions: The incidence and prevalence of UC in our study area are still low compared with those of Western countries, but the incidence rate is steadily increasing.