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During the last decade, it has become clear that aberrant microRNA expression has a functional role in the initiation and progression of colorectal cancer (CRC). Specific microRNAs can act as either tumor suppressors or oncogenes depending on the cellular environment in which they are expressed. The expression of microRNAs is reproducibly altered in CRC, and their expression patterns are associated with diagnosis, prognosis, and therapeutic outcome in CRC. Studies have begun to examine the association of microRNA-related polymorphisms and their association with CRC incidence and prognosis as well as the possibility of using circulating microRNAs or fecal microRNA expression as noninvasive early detection biomarkers. These data suggest that microRNAs may be potential molecular classifiers, early detection biomarkers, and therapeutic targets for CRC. Here, we will review the evidence demonstrating a role of microRNAs in CRC.

(C) 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.