J Pathol Transl Med.  2020 Jul;54(4):276-289. 10.4132/jptm.2020.04.15.

Evolving pathologic concepts of serrated lesions of the colorectum

  • 1Department of Pathology, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Laboratory of Epigenetics, Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Here, we provide an up-to-date review of the histopathology and molecular pathology of serrated colorectal lesions. First, we introduce the updated contents of the 2019 World Health Organization classification for serrated lesions. The sessile serrated lesion (SSL) is a new diagnostic terminology that replaces sessile serrated adenoma and sessile serrated polyp. The diagnostic criteria for SSL were revised to require only one unequivocal distorted serrated crypt, which is sufficient for diagnosis. Unclassified serrated adenomas have been included as a new category of serrated lesions. Second, we review ongoing issues concerning the morphology of serrated lesions. Minor morphologic variants with distinct molecular features were recently defined, including serrated tubulovillous adenoma, mucin-rich variant of traditional serrated adenoma (TSA), and superficially serrated adenoma. In addition to intestinal dysplasia and serrated dysplasia, minimal deviation dysplasia and not otherwise specified dysplasia were newly suggested as dysplasia subtypes of SSLs. Third, we summarize the molecular features of serrated lesions. The critical determinant of CpG island methylation development in SSLs is patient age. Interestingly, there may be ethnic differences in BRAF/KRAS mutation frequencies in SSLs. The molecular pathogenesis of TSAs is divided into KRAS and BRAF mutation pathways. SSLs with MLH1 methylation can progress into favorable prognostic microsatellite instability-positive (MSI+)/CpG island methylator phenotype-positive (CIMP+) carcinomas, whereas MLH1-unmethylated SSLs and BRAF-mutated TSAs can be precursors of poor-prognostic MSI−/CIMP+ carcinomas. Finally, based on our recent data, we propose an algorithm for stratifying risk subgroups of non-dysplastic SSLs.


Adenoma; Colonic polyps; Colorectal neoplasms; Serrated pathway; Serrated polyp
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