Objective: The study summarizes results of karyometric measurements in epithelial cells of the colorectal mucosa to document evidence of a field effect of preneoplastic development amongpatients with colorectal adenocarcinoma or adenoma. Methods: Karyometric analyses were done on high-resolution images of histologic sections from 48 patients with colorectal adenocarcinomas and 44 patients with adenomas and on images from matching normal-appearing mucosa directly adjacent to such lesions, at a 1-cm and 10-cm distance from the lesions or from the rectal mucosa of adenoma patients, as well as from 24 healthy normal controls with no family history of colonic disease. Results: The nuclei recorded in the histologically normal-appearing mucosa of patients with either colorectal adenoma or adenocarcinoma exhibited differences in karyometric features in comparison with nuclei recorded in rectal mucosa from patients who were free of a colonic lesion. These differences were expressed to the same extent in tissue adjacent to the lesions and in normal-appearing tissue as distant as the rectum. Conclusions: The nuclear chromatin pattern may serve as an integrating biomarker for a preneoplastic development. The field effect might provide an end point in chemopreventive intervention trials.
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