Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Terminal digit preference occurs in pathology reporting irrespective of patient management implication
  1. S J Hayes
  1. Department of Histopathology, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Salford, UK
  1. Dr Stephen Hayes, Department of Histopathology, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Stott Lane, Salford M6 8HD, UK; stephen.hayes{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Terminal digit preference is defined as a phenomenon whereby an observer rounds off a measurement to a digit of his or her choosing, commonly the terminal digit zero.1

It has been shown to occur in the reporting of colorectal adenocarcinomas and is thought to represent an under-recognised source of error in pathology reporting.2 In such circumstances, digit preference is unlikely to influence patient management, as minor variations in tumour measurement would not change either the tumour, node, metastases (TNM) or Dukes’ tumour stage.3 Digit preference could therefore occur in the context of colorectal carcinoma reporting, as pathologists may round off measurement values with a prior knowledge that this would have no effect on patient management.

It therefore remains uncertain whether or not digit preference occurs …

View Full Text


  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Ethics approval was obtained.