Diverticulosis and colorectal cancer: between lights and shadows

Cesare Hassan, S Morini, A Zullo, S Tomao, Sma Campo

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43 Citations (Scopus)


The prevalence of diverticulosis and colorectal cancer (CRC) is markedly increased in the last century. Both diseases are highly frequent in Western countries and in aged people. Western diet--low in fiber and rich in dietary fat--has been largely regarded to play a major role in the pathogenesis of both conditions. A causal relationship between diverticulosis and CRC has been suggested in different studies. Epidemiologic series found a more frequent rectosigmoid localization of neoplastic lesions (advanced adenoma and CRC) in patients with diverticulosis as compared with controls, particularly in those with a previous diverticulitis episode or with an extensive disease. However, data are still controversial, with other studies failing to confirm this observation. Such discrepancy could be referred to the highly heterogeneous study design and setting in the different epidemiologic series. Pathologic studies showed that either macroscopic and microscopic chronic inflammation--which is regarded as risk factor for CRC development--is present in the colonic mucosa of some patients with diverticula. Moreover, alterations in the extracellular matrix, also involved in colorectal carcinogenesis, have been depicted in diverticulosis. In addition, an upward shifting of cell proliferation occurs in diverticular mucosa, and in nondiverticular patients with advanced adenomas. Finally, aberrant crypt foci--which are considered potential markers of CRC risk in ulcerative colitis--have been detected in colonic mucosa of patients with diverticulosis. Despite this substantial amount of evidence, however, the available data are not yet strong enough to suggest a more aggressive CRC prevention in diverticular as compared with nondiverticular subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-770
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adenoma
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Colorectal Neoplasms
  • Diverticulosis, Colonic
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors


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