Serrated polyps of the large intestine: current understanding of diagnosis, pathogenesis, and clinical management

J Gastroenterol. 2013 Mar;48(3):287-302. doi: 10.1007/s00535-012-0720-y. Epub 2012 Dec 4.


Approximately 30% of colorectal carcinomas develop via the serrated neoplasia pathway characterized by widespread DNA methylation and frequent BRAF mutation. Serrated polyps represent a heterogeneous group of polyps which are the precursor lesions to serrated pathway colorectal carcinomas. The histological classification of serrated polyps has evolved over the last two decades to distinguish three separate entities: hyperplastic polyp, sessile serrated adenoma (SSA), and traditional serrated adenoma (TSA). The malignant potential of SSAs and TSAs has been clearly demonstrated. SSAs are more challenging to detect by colonoscopy and are likely to account for some interval carcinomas of the proximal colon. Serrated polyposis syndrome is now widely recognized as conferring a high risk of colorectal carcinoma although its cause remains elusive. The current understanding of the actual malignant potential of each serrated polyp subtype is still limited due to the lack of large-scale prospective studies. Patient management guidelines have been recently updated although high-level evidence to support them is still required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Polyps / diagnosis
  • Colonic Polyps / etiology
  • Colonic Polyps / therapy
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Polyps / diagnosis*
  • Intestinal Polyps / etiology
  • Intestinal Polyps / therapy
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis*
  • Precancerous Conditions / etiology
  • Precancerous Conditions / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors