The proximal and distal bowel resection margins of 339 specimens of colorectal adenocarcinoma were examined for the presence of tumour. In only five cases was tumour found in a resection margin. In four of these cases macroscopic examination showed that the tumour extended to the resection margin. In the fifth case the tumour was present in the pericolic fat. These results and reported data on the intramural spread of colorectal cancer suggest that examination of bowel resection margins is unnecessary unless the tumour extends to within 2 cm of the resection margin. Examination of the deep radial margins of the tumour and slides to show other prognostic indicators would be a more effective use of histopathological resources.
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