Endoscopic techniques aimed at early detection of colorectal cancer (CRC) and its precursors, permitting targeted in vivo luminal treatments, have been developed by the Japanese since the early 1990s. The introduction of this new technology to the UK (i.e. magnification endoscopes) may permit earlier and more accurate diagnosis. According to Japanese data, magnification chromoscopy can be used to predict histology and invasive depth of cancer, and help in the detection of flat and depressed colonic lesions. Flat and depressed lesions are not purely Japanese phenomena: they exist with a similar incidence in the UK.