Autosomal dominant, familial forms of colorectal adenocarcinoma are recognized, but more than 90% of cases are sporadic. Most familial and sporadic cases arise through malignant transformation of benign adenomas in a process known as the adenoma-to-carcinoma sequence. Adenomas are classified histologically as tubular, tubulovillous, or villous. As a neoplasm, adenomas all manifest mild, moderate, or severe dysplasia. The majority (> 90%) of adenomas are small. (< 1 cm in diameter) and do not progress. Risk factors for carcinomatous progression include the presence of multiple adenomas, size greater than or equal to 1 cm, and villous histology or severe dysplasia in adenomas of any size. The adenoma-to-carcinoma sequence advances through the accumulation of lesions involving multiple genes. It appears that similar molecular genetic mechanisms are involved in familial and sporadic forms of colorectal neoplasia.
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