Terminology, Molecular Features, Epidemiology, and Management of Serrated Colorectal Neoplasia

Gastroenterology. 2019 Oct;157(4):949-966.e4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2019.06.041. Epub 2019 Jul 16.


In addition to the adenoma to carcinoma sequence, colorectal carcinogenesis can occur via the serrated pathway. Studies have focused on clarification of categories and molecular features of serrated polyps, as well as endoscopic detection and risk assessment. Guidelines from the World Health Organization propose assigning serrated polyps to categories of hyperplastic polyps, traditional serrated adenomas, and sessile serrated lesions (SSLs). Traditional serrated adenomas and SSLs are precursors to colorectal cancer. The serrated pathway is characterized by mutations in RAS and RAF, disruptions to the Wnt signaling pathway, and widespread methylation of CpG islands. Epidemiology studies of serrated polyps have been hampered by inconsistencies in terminology and reporting, but the prevalence of serrated class polyps is 20%-40% in average-risk individuals; most serrated polyps detected are hyperplastic. SSLs, the most common premalignant serrated subtype, and are found in up to 15% of average-risk patients by high-detecting endoscopists. Variations in rate of endoscopic detection of serrated polyps indicate the need for careful examination, with adequate bowel preparation and sufficient withdrawal times. Risk factors for SSLs include white race, family history of colorectal cancer, smoking, and alcohol intake. Patients with serrated polyps, particularly SSLs and traditional serrated adenomas, have an increased risk of synchronous and metachronous advanced neoplasia. Surveillance guidelines vary among countries, but SSLs and proximal hyperplastic polyps require special attention in assignment of surveillance interval-especially in light of concerns regarding incomplete detection and resection.

Keywords: Colon Cancer; Colonoscopy; Tumor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyps* / classification
  • Adenomatous Polyps* / epidemiology
  • Adenomatous Polyps* / genetics
  • Adenomatous Polyps* / therapy
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma* / classification
  • Carcinoma* / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma* / genetics
  • Carcinoma* / therapy
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Colonic Polyps* / classification
  • Colonic Polyps* / epidemiology
  • Colonic Polyps* / genetics
  • Colonic Polyps* / therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / classification
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Terminology as Topic*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor