Although often viewed as a single disease, colorectal cancer more accurately represents a family of diseases with different precursor lesions. Conventional (tubular, tubulovillous and villous) adenomas are the most common neoplastic lesions occurring in the large intestine. They have adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) mutations and arise from dysplastic aberrant crypt foci, initially as polyclonal lesions. In sporadic tumours, neoplastic progression follows the traditional pathway (chromosomal instability pathway), resulting in CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP)-negative, microsatellite-stable (MSS), BRAF and KRAS wild-type cancers. Germline mutations in the APC gene lead to familial adenomatous polyposis. Conventional adenomas are also the precursors of Lynch syndrome-associated microsatellite-instable (MSI-high) cancers. Sessile serrated adenoma/polyp (SSA/P) is the principal precursor lesion of the serrated pathway, in which BRAF mutation can lead to colorectal cancer with MSI-high CIMP-high or MSS CIMP-high phenotype. SSA/Ps have been associated with synchronous and metachronous invasive adenocarcinomas as well as so-called interval carcinomas. Serrated polyposis is rare but most likely underdiagnosed. Affected individuals bear an increased but unspecified risk for the development of colorectal cancer; close endoscopic surveillance is warranted. Traditional serrated adenomas (TSAs) are much less common than the other serrated lesions. Cancers originating from TSAs may show KRAS mutation with a CIMP-high MSS phenotype.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel.