Emergence of a New Optical Marker for Colorectal Neoplasms: To What Extent Should We Accept It?

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Clin Endosc. 2022;55(2):315-317
Publication date (electronic) : 2022 February 21
doi : https://doi.org/10.5946/ce.2021.264
Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea Seoul, Korea
Correspondence: Han Hee Lee Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Yeouido St. Mary’s Hospital College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 10, 63-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 07345, Republic of Korea Tel: +82-2-3779-1519, Fax: 682-2-3779-1331, E-mail: hanyee99@hanmail.net
Received 2021 October 22; Revised 2021 November 15; Accepted 2021 November 16.

To the Editor:

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is among the most common cancers worldwide whose incidence and prevalence have been increasing, especially among subjects younger than 50 years of age [1]. Colonoscopy is considered the most sensitive and effective CRC screening method as well as an essential prevention strategy because it can be used to detect and remove premalignant adenomas. Furthermore, the introduction of high-definition and magnifying endoscopy has increased adenoma detection rates and made it possible to predict CRC histological results and invasion depth [2]. The Japan NBI Expert Team (JNET) classification, which is accepted as the NBI magnifying classification standard, classifies tumors into four types according to surface and vessel patterns: 1, 2A, 2B, and 3 [3]. Type 2B ranges from high-grade dysplasias to superficial submucosal invasive (SM-s) carcinomas. However, the actual diagnostic performance of type 2B is so weak that 37% and 12% of type 2B lesions were identified as low-grade dysplasia and deep submucosal invasive (SM-d) carcinoma, respectively [4]. The accurate prediction of histological findings through endoscopic examinations can enable the selection of the correct endoscopic resection method and reduce non-curative resection rates, thereby reducing unnecessary subsequent management efforts and the risk of poor outcomes such as recurrence [5,6].

I received inspiration from an article on the usefulness of white opaque substances (WOS) in colorectal epithelial neoplasms observed during magnifying endoscopy. Yamasaki et al. reported that irregular WOS are useful predictors of early colorectal carcinoma with an accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of 87%, 91%, and 86%, respectively [7]. Notably, the presence of WOS is a relatively objective indicator with a 96% negative predictive value for carcinoma. However, endoscopists must consider several points before using WOS as a new optical marker. First, a significant number of colorectal epithelial neoplasms do not feature WOS. More than half of the 511 initially recruited lesions were WOS-negative, and 72 of the remaining 197 neoplastic lesions included WOS in less than half of the area under maximal magnification endoscopy, making them unsuitable for analysis. This phenomenon may be due to the characteristics of a retrospective study evaluating recorded endoscopic images only because it is unknown how many WOS-positive cases will emerge in a prospective study. Second, WOS showed poor performance for discriminating between SM-d carcinoma and superficial carcinoma (p=0.727) cases, making it a less suitable option because the most important objective of magnifying endoscopy is predicting SM-d carcinoma. Therefore, to distinguish between SM-d carcinoma and superficial carcinoma cases, it is necessary to observe the pit pattern using traditional chromoendoscopy. In conclusion, WOS can currently play only an auxiliary role in the observation of surface patterns, and the accumulation of more data is required to determine the clinical significance of the presence of WOS.


Conflicts of Interest: The author has no potential conflicts of interests.


This research was supported by the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science & ICT (NRF-2018M3A9E8021507).


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