The review begins with molecular genetics, which hit the field unveiling the involvement of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in the pathogenesis of colorectal cancer (CRC) and uncovering genetic predispositions. Then the notion of molecular phenotypes with different clinical behaviors was introduced and translated in the clinical arena, paving the way to next-generation sequencing that captured previously unrecognized heterogeneity. Among other molecular regulators of CRC progression, the extent of host immune response within the tumor micro-environment has a critical position. Translational sciences deeply investigated the field, accelerating the pace toward clinical transition, due to its strong association with outcomes. While the perturbation of gut homeostasis occurring in inflammatory bowel diseases can fuel carcinogenesis, micronutrients like vitamin D and calcium can act as brakes, and we discuss underlying molecular mechanisms. Among the components of gut microbiota, Fusobacterium nucleatum is over-represented in CRC, and may worsen patient outcome. However, any translational knowledge tracing the multifaceted evolution of CRC should be interpreted according to the prognostic and predictive frame of the TNM-staging system in a perspective of clinical actionability. Eventually, we examine challenges and promises of pharmacological interventions aimed to restrain disease progression at different disease stages.
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