Colonoscopic diagnosis and management of nonpolypoid early colorectal cancer

World J Surg. 2000 Sep;24(9):1081-90. doi: 10.1007/s002680010154.


Nonpolypoid colorectal neoplasms are grossly classified into three groups: slightly elevated (small flat adenomas), laterally spreading, and depressed. Flat adenomas are not invasive until they are rather large, whereas depressed lesions can invade the submucosa even when they are extremely small. Nonpolypoid lesions are difficult to detect and are often overlooked. Keys to detect them are their slight color change, interruption of the capillary network pattern, slight deformation of the colonic wall, spontaneously bleeding spots, shape change of the lesion with insufflation and deflation of air, and interruption of the innominate grooves. Spraying of indigo carmine dye helps to clarify the lesions. A pit pattern analysis with a zoom colonoscope is useful for the diagnosis and staging of early colorectal cancer. Small flat adenomas are thought to be precursors of protruded polyps and lateral spreading tumors, whereas depressed lesions are thought to grow endophytically and become advanced cancers. Small depressed lesions are treated with an endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) technique; but when they massively invade the submucosa, surgical resection is indicated. Laterally spreading tumors are not as invasive despite their large size and therefore are good indications for the EMR or piecemeal EMR method. Small flat adenomas need not be treated urgently, as almost none is invasive. Accurate diagnosis with dye-spraying and zoom colonoscopy is vital for deciding the treatment strategy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / pathology*
  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness