Colon carcinogenesis in inflammatory bowel disease: applying molecular genetics to clinical practice

J Clin Gastroenterol. May-Jun 2003;36(5 Suppl):S70-4; discussion S94-6. doi: 10.1097/00004836-200305001-00012.


Although both sporadic colorectal cancer (CRC) and colitis-associated CRC arise from dysplastic precursor lesions and share several molecular alterations, the nature of the dysplasia and the frequency and timing of several of the key molecular changes differ enough to consider colitis-associated CRC a rather unique entity. To date, cancer surveillance in both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's colitis rests upon the detection of dysplasia. However, because there are considerable limitations to the detection and interpretation of dysplasia, there is a need for other molecular markers to complement the histologic analysis of dysplasia. Because patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) undergo repeated, periodic surveillance colonoscopies, it affords an opportunity to study marker expression over time. Of the few markers that have been studied chronologically, aneuploidy, p53, and mucin-associated sialyl-Tn antigen expression each hold promise as markers of CRC risk in IBD. It will be important to study whether these markers, or other panels of gene or protein expression, can identify patients at highest risk for developing CRC in future clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics*
  • Molecular Biology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor