Hyperplastic polyps of the colorectum—Innocent or guilty?

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Hyperplastic polyps have traditionally been regarded as nonneoplastic polyps lacking malignant potential. The demonstration of genetic alterations within these lesions indicates an underlying neoplastic cause. There is evidence that hyperplastic polyps are heterogeneous. Most are innocuous, but subsets may have malignant potential. Risk factors for neoplastic progression include multiple, large, and proximally located polyps. Aberrant methylation resulting in the silencing of cancer genes may be an important underlying mechanism, particularly in pathways progessing to tumors with DNA microsatellite instability. Lesions intermediate between hyperplastic polyp and cancer include admixed polyps and serrated adenomas. Currently, pathologists have different thresholds for diagnosing serrated adenomas, including the distinction from large hyperplastic polyps. Reasons for over looking this pathway in the past may include rapid tumor progression and the fact that proximally located hyperplastic polyps may be flat and not especially numerous. Management of the serrated pathway of colorectal neoplasia may require novel approaches to screening, early detection, and prevention.

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