Molecular classification and correlates in colorectal cancer

J Mol Diagn. 2008 Jan;10(1):13-27. doi: 10.2353/jmoldx.2008.070082. Epub 2007 Dec 28.


Molecular classification of colorectal cancer is evolving. As our understanding of colorectal carcinogenesis improves, we are incorporating new knowledge into the classification system. In particular, global genomic status [microsatellite instability (MSI) status and chromosomal instability (CIN) status] and epigenomic status [CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) status] play a significant role in determining clinical, pathological and biological characteristics of colorectal cancer. In this review, we discuss molecular classification and molecular correlates based on MSI status and CIMP status in colorectal cancer. Studying molecular correlates is important in cancer research because it can 1) provide clues to pathogenesis, 2) propose or support the existence of a new molecular subtype, 3) alert investigators to be aware of potential confounding factors in association studies, and 4) suggest surrogate markers in clinical or research settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / classification*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans


  • Biomarkers, Tumor