Colon cancer is believed to arise from two types of precursor polyps via two distinct pathways: conventional adenomas by the conventional adenoma-to-carcinoma sequence and serrated adenomas according to the serrated adenoma-to-carcinoma theory. Conventional adenomas arise from mutation of the APC gene; progression to colon cancer is a multistep process. The fundamental genetic defect in serrated adenomas is unknown. Environmental factors can increase the risk for colon cancer. Advanced colon cancer often presents with symptoms, but early colon cancer and premalignant adenomatous polyps commonly are asymptomatic, rendering them difficult to detect and providing the rationale for mass screening of adults over age 50.