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Pathology of serrated colorectal lesions
  1. Adrian C Bateman
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adrian C Bateman, Department of Cellular Pathology, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, MP002, Level E, South Block, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK; adrian.bateman{at}


The concept of serrated colorectal neoplasia has become recognised as a key process in the development of colorectal cancer (CRC) and an important alternative pathway to malignancy compared with the long-established ‘adenoma-carcinoma’ sequence. Increasing recognition of the morphological spectrum of serrated lesions has occurred in parallel with elucidation of the distinct molecular genetic characteristics of progression from normal mucosa, via the ‘serrated pathway’, to CRC. Some of these lesions can be difficult to identify at colonoscopy. Challenges for pathologists include the requirement for accurate recognition of the forms of serrated lesions that are associated with a significant risk of malignant progression and therefore the need for widely disseminated reproducible criteria for their diagnosis. Alongside this process, pathologists and endoscopists need to formulate clear guidelines for the management of patients with these lesions, particularly with respect to the optimal follow-up intervals. This review provides practical guidance for the recognition of these lesions by pathologists, a discussion of ‘serrated adenocarcinoma’ and an insight into the distinct molecular genetic alterations that are seen in this spectrum of lesions in comparison to those that characterise the classic ‘adenoma-carcinoma’ sequence.


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