Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic and relapsing inflammation of the colonic mucosa with variable extension from the rectum towards the cecum. The aim of medical treatment is to induce and maintain clinical remission. If no remission can be achieved, continuous inflammation may repeatedly destroy the epithelial cells. This has to be compensated by epithelial increased proliferation which finally can lead to inflammation-associated colorectal cancer (CRC). The risk of colitis-associated CRC is increased after a long disease duration, especially in patients with chronic active disease. This risk may be lower if long-lasting mucosal healing can be achieved. To detect the development of dysplasia/intraepithelial neoplasia and colitis-associated CRC early, surveillance programs have been installed. However, the evidence of success for those surveillance programs is limited. This is partially due to problems of detecting precancerous lesions in the colonic mucosa during those surveillance programs. The specific problems of surveillance programs for the prevention of CRC and specific aspects of patient care in UC are reviewed in this article.