The expression of nuclear marker features in normal-appearing tissue adjacent to colonic adenocarcinoma was investigated. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections of colon from 9 patients with adenocarcinoma and from 9 normal controls were cut 4 μm thick, Feulgen stained, and measured by a cell image analysis system using a Matrox MVP-AT/NP imaging board. Thirty nuclei in the tumor region, 30 nuclei 2 mm into the histologically normal-appearing distal margin, and the same number at 5, 10, 20, and 50 mm into the margin were measured for each patient. An additional 30 nuclei were recorded from 9 patients each free from colonic disease. Nuclear features were selected to discriminate between tumor nuclei and nuclei from normal control subjects and between nuclei measured in the histologically normal-appearing margin next to the tumor and control nuclei. Eight micromorphometric measures were found to be statistically significantly different in nuclei measured in the margin site, including features describing staining density (total absorbance, average absorbance 20% below mean, average absorbance 20% above mean) chromatin texture (cooccurrence matrix, run length, and peripheral tendency) and nuclear area. The category differences are statistically highly significant.

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Supported by Grant R01 CA45249-02 from the National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD to M. B.

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