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The clinicopathological details of eight cases of ulcerative colitis complicated by carcinoma of the colon are described. There was a total of 14 primary colonic cancers, six of which were not detected before pathological examination of the resection specimens. The reason for this may be related to atypical tumour growth patterns. Three occurred in flat mucosa, one in a mucosal plaque lesion, and another in polypoidal mucosa. The occurrence, distribution, and morphology of mucosal dysplasia were noted in both resection specimens and biopsies taken at varying stages before resection. Tumour was associated with normal and adjacent dysplastic mucosa of varying grades. The extent and grade of dysplasia were not reliable indicators of tumour differentiation or subsequent clinical outcome. Only two cancers were poorly differentiated. In five cases a total of 23 mucosal biopsies were taken, all less than 12 months before resection. Three rectal biopsies were graded positive for dysplasia and three colonic biopsies indefinite for dysplasia. The subsequent resection specimens showed both dysplastic and carcinomatous changes. Three rectal and 14 colonic biopsies were graded negative for dysplasia despite positive findings in the subsequent resection specimens. This anomaly is partly attributed to the patchy nature of dysplasia in colitic mucosa. Two cases illustrate the possibility of dysplasia pursuing a rapidly progressive course. The mucosal changes of ulcerative colitis were assessed using a recently introduced and standardised international classification.