A new method for measuring differences in nuclear detail in chrome alum gallocyanin-stained nuclei of cells from human breast cancers was compared with conventional subjective grading and classification systems. The new method, termed computerized nuclear morphometry (CNM), gives a multivariate numerical score that correlates well with nuclear atypia and gives a higher reproducibility of classification than do subjective observations with conventional histological preparations. When 100 individual nuclei from each of 137 breast cancers were examined by CNM, there was a broad CNM score variation between patients but a good reproducibility for each tumor. When different parts of the same tumor were sampled, there was good reproducibility between samples, indicating that some breast cancers at least are “geometrically monoclonal.” When these cancers were compared by the grading systems of WHO and Black, correlations of 0.43 and 0.48, respectively, were found. There was a poor correlation between CNM and classifications of tumor type, but in general there were high values for CNM in medullary tumors and low values in mucous tumors. Correlations between CNM and tumor progression and prognosis await future study of patients participating in the study.


This work was supported by NIH-National Cancer Institute Contract N01-CB-53968 through the Breast Cancer Task Force.

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