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Serrated polyps and colorectal cancer: new pathway to malignancy.

Until recently, two major forms of colorectal epithelial polyp were recognized: the adenoma and the hyperplastic polyp. Adenomas were perceived to represent the precursor to colorectal cancer, whereas hyperplastic polyps were viewed as innocuous lesions with no potential for progression to malignancy. We now recognize, however, that the lesions formerly classified as hyperplastic actually represent a heterogeneous group of polyps, some of which have a significant risk for neoplastic transformation. These serrated polyps include not only hyperplastic polyps but also traditional serrated adenomas and sessile serrated adenomas. These polyps demonstrate characteristic molecular alterations not commonly seen in colorectal adenomas, and they probably progress to colorectal cancer by means of a new pathway: the serrated neoplasia pathway. The morphologic features of serrated colorectal lesions, the molecular alterations that characterize them, and their role in colorectal cancer development are discussed herein.

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