History, evolution, and current status of radiologic imaging tests for colorectal cancer screening

Marc S. Levine, Judy Yee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Colorectal cancer screening is thought to be an effective tool with which to reduce the mortality from colorectal cancer through early detection and removal of colonic adenomas and early colon cancers. In this article, we review the history, evolution, and current status of imaging tests of the colon-including single-contrast barium enema, double-contrast barium enema, computed tomographic (CT) colonography, and magnetic resonance (MR) colonography- for colorectal cancer screening. Despite its documented value in the detection of colonic polyps, the double-contrast barium enema has largely disappeared as a screening test because it is widely perceived as a labor-intensive, time-consuming, and technically demanding procedure. In the past decade, the barium enema has been supplanted by CT colonography as the major imaging test in colorectal cancer screening in the United States, with MR colonography emerging as another viable option in Europe. Although MR colonography does not require ionizing radiation, the radiation dose for CT colonography has decreased substantially, and regular screening with this technique has a high benefit-to-risk ratio. In recent years, CT colonography has been validated as an effective tool for use in colorectal cancer screening that is increasingly being disseminated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S160-S180
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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