Tissue-shrinkage Correction Factor in the Calculation of Prostate Cancer Volume


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Abstract

Many studies that have calculated prostate cancer volumes from microscopic slides have used correction factors, ranging from 1.22 to 1.5, to compensate for tissue shrinkage during tissue processing. We undertook a study to measure tissue shrinkage directly because our experience suggested less shrinkage than that reported by others. Ten prostatectomy specimens were processed in a uniform manner. Multiple identical linear measurements were taken at four stages of processing: in the fresh state, following fixation, following processing, and from the microscopic slide. Linear shrinkage following fixation was minimal (4.1%) but increased to 14.5% following tissue processing. With rehydration and expansion on the flotation bath, tissues swelled so that net linear tissue shrinkage was 4.3%, and net volumetric tissue shrinkage was 12.4%, which translates into a correction factor for tissue shrinkage of 1.14. The following variables had no statistically significant effect on shrinkage: concentration of formalin, whole-mount versus quadrant section, thickness of tissue slices, length of time in the alcohol dehydration steps, and temperature of the flotation bath over a range of 35 to 45°C. This study suggests that (a) tissue-shrinkage correction factors that have been used in some previous studies may not be applicable for all laboratories because of interlaboratory variations in tissue-processing procedures or differences in measuring shrinkage; and (b) some calculated tumor volumes that have been used for prognostic thresholds may be high because of inflated tissue-shrinkage correction factors.

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