Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects continuous portions of the large intestine from the rectum into the colon. Ulcerative colitis causes damage to the lining of the mucosa leading to swelling and eroding of the tissue forming ulcerations. The rectal or colonic involvement involves alternating periods of acute flares and then remissions or, in some individuals, continuous symptoms. Individuals with this disease may complain of rectal bleeding, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, fecal urgency, an inability to move the bowels effectively in spite of the urge to do so (tenesmus), fever, and weight loss. Ulcerative colitis can also be associated with joint pains and inflammation and over many years can lead to a susceptibility to developing colon cancer.