Twenty eight patients with colonic cancer, who were asymptomatic after intestinal resection and anastomosis, underwent colonoscopy as part of their routine follow up, and biopsies were obtained from the anastomosis and several other sites. Sections were stained by haematoxylin and eosin, several methods for mucin, and by the peroxidase-antiperoxidase method for carcinoembryonic antigen. Non-specific inflammatory changes were seen at the anastomosis in 11 of the 28 cases, apparent in several two years after operation; focal surface ulceration was seen in over half these samples. Neither dysplastic nor adenomatous change was detected, but at seven anastomoses the so called transitional change, which has been regarded as a preneoplastic change, was apparent. There was no consistent alteration in carcinoembryonic antigen reactivity. It is concluded that there is morphological evidence of a continued stimulus to regenerative activity at some anastomoses and that this may represent a promoting factor enhancing further carcinogenesis.
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