It is a truism to say that the main (nay, only) method of assessing cell proliferation which has enjoyed any routine popularity has been the assessment of mitotic activity. This is obviously because nothing special has to be done to the tissues (indeed routine sections are usually used). However, instead of approaching such measurements on an appropriate basis, i.e. achieving measurements of accuracy and known precision, most workers have relied on easy, non-critical, rule-of-thumb assessments. Such an approach is, in our opinion, a perfect recipe for disaster. In this chapter we review the several methods of assessing mitotic activity, the purported role of these measurements in prognosis, and reflect on the vagaries of these measurements.
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