Published online Feb 15, 2013. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v5.i2.12
Revised: December 24, 2012
Accepted: January 17, 2013
Published online: February 15, 2013
Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality are constantly decreasing, but CRC still remains the third most prevalent cancer and the third most common cause of cancer death in both males and females in the United States. Recent rapid declines in CRC incidence rates have largely been attributed to increases in screening that can detect and remove precancerous polyps, and the decrease in death rates for CRC largely reflects improvements in early detection, treatment and the understanding of molecular/genetic basis of CRC. One of the important molecular/genetic findings is the presence of microsatellite instability (MSI) in CRCs. Many studies have shown the importance of MSI testing in diagnosing Lynch syndrome and predicting prognosis and response to chemotherapeutic agents in CRCs. Increased emphasis has been placed on the importance of MSI testing for all newly diagnosed individuals with CRCs. Both immunohistochemical staining (IHC) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based MSI testing show high sensitivity and specificity in detecting MSI. The current clinical guidelines and histopathology features are indicative of, but not reliable in diagnosing Lynch syndrome and CRCs with MSI. Currently, there are evidences that universal testing for MSI starting with either IHC or PCR-based MSI testing is cost effective, sensitive, specific and is getting widely accepted.