A variety of genetic and molecular alterations underlie the development and progression of colorectal neoplasia (CRN). Most of these cancers arise sporadically due to multiple somatic mutations and genetic instability. Genetic instability includes chromosomal instability (CIN) and microsatellite instability (MSI), which is observed in most hereditary non-polyposis colon cancers (HNPCCs) and accounts for a small proportion of sporadic CRN. Although many biomarkers have been used in the diagnosis and prediction of the clinical outcomes of CRNs, no single marker has established value. New markers and genes associated with the development and progression of CRNs are being discovered at an accelerated rate. CRN is a heterogeneous disease, especially with respect to the anatomic location of the tumor, race/ethnicity differences, and genetic and dietary interactions that influence its development and progression and act as confounders. Hence, efforts related to biomarker discovery should focus on identification of individual differences based on tumor stage, tumor anatomic location, and race/ethnicity; on the discovery of molecules (genes, mRNA transcripts, and proteins) relevant to these differences; and on development of therapeutic approaches to target these molecules in developing personalized medicine. Such strategies have the potential of reducing the personal and socio-economic burden of CRNs. Here, we systematically review molecular and other pathologic features as they relate to the development, early detection, diagnosis, prognosis, progression, and prevention of CRNs, especially colorectal cancers (CRCs). © 2012 IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.