The quantitative nuclear DNA content of nuclei from fine needle aspirations from 70 patients with pancreatic cancer was measured using an image analyser system. Retrospective analysis of patients indicated that cases with tumour stemlines in the diploid region had the best chance for radical surgery (p less than 0.006) and the best probability of survival (p less than 0.0004). The prognosis for patients with tetraploid stemlines was intermediate and was poorest for patients with no stemlines in the diploid-tetraploid region. From those parameters assessed postoperatively, only the tumour stage added appreciable information on prognosis to the preoperative quantitative DNA content obtainable. Therefore, in patients with pancreatic cancer the quantitative DNA content should be taken into account in planning treatment and assessing prognosis. Furthermore, the quantitative DNA content may have a major role in stratification for further treatment trials.
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