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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2000 Mar;15 Suppl:D66-70.

Early colorectal cancer: flat or depressed type.

Author information

  • 1Department of Surgery and Gastroenterology, Akita Red Cross Hospital, Kamikitade, Japan. kudo-s@synap.ne.jp


The present review describes the changes in views about the early forms of colorectal cancers. In 1985, a concept of 'flat adenoma' was born in Japan. At around the same time, depressed type early colorectal cancers started to be reported by Japanese colonoscopists. Neither flat adenomas nor depressed lesions have been frequently reported in Western countries, but increasing numbers of such cases are now described. The problem is that flat adenomas and depressed lesions seem to have been confused by many researchers. The biological aggressiveness of these lesions is quite different. The rate of submucosal invasion is very high in depressed lesions, but fairly low in small flat adenomas. Some adenomas may even look depressed at first, but such lesions should not be mistaken for truly depressed lesions. Ignorance or resistance to the concept may inhibit the detection of flat or depressed lesions. Differences of diagnostic criteria between Japanese and Western pathologists may influence the apparent frequency of mucosal cancers, but not that of invasive carcinomas. Many small adenomas do not grow if followed, but depressed lesions grow rapidly and invade the deeper layers and, as a result, may look elevated as a whole. Many cases in previously published papers suggest that small depressed carcinomas of the large intestine may develop without a precursory stage of an adenomatous polyp. At least two carcinogenic pathways, one through adenomatous polyps and one de novo, should be recognized. In addition, the importance of small depressed cancers should be emphasized.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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