Endoscopic diagnosis and treatment of early colorectal cancer

World J Surg. 1997 Sep;21(7):694-701. doi: 10.1007/s002689900293.


Colorectal adenomas and early cancers are grossly classified into three groups: protruded, flush or slightly elevated (so-called flat adenomas), and depressed. Protruded lesions and flat adenomas are not invasive until they are rather large, whereas depressed lesions can invade the submucosa even when very small. It is not difficult to detect protruded and flat adenomas, but depressed carcinomas are often overlooked. Keys to the detection of depressed carcinomas are a slight color change, bleeding spots, interruptions of the capillary network pattern, slight deformation of the colonic wall, shape change of the lesion with insufflation and deflation of air, and interruption of the innominate grooves by the lesion. Spraying of indigo carmine dye helps to clarify the lesions. Pit pattern analysis with magnifying colonoscopy is useful for diagnosis of early colorectal cancer. Pit pattern analysis and histologic examination suggest that depressed carcinomas probably have arisen de novo, without going through an adenomatous step. Some adenomas appear at first to have a depression, but such cancer-mimicking adenomas with pseudodepression must be distinguished from depressed carcinomas because they are quite different in nature. Protruded and flat adenomas can usually be removed with polypectomy or hot biopsy techniques. Depressed carcinomas are treated with an endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR) technique; but when they massively invade the submucosa, surgical resection is indicated. Some neoplastic lesions, which we call laterally spreading tumors, extensively and circumferentially spread along the colonic wall, although they are short in height. They tend to have a rather benign nature despite their large size; therefore EMR or a piecemeal EMR method is indicated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnosis
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adenoma / surgery
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / surgery
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Endoscopy*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness