Nucleus-to-cytoplasm ratio

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Cells with a high NC ratio (small cell carcinoma).

Nucleus-to-cytoplasm ratio, also nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio, is the relative size of the nucleus to the cytoplasm. It is commonly abbreviated NC ratio.

High NC ratio is a strong predictor of malignancy.[1] Like very rule, there are exceptions.

NC ratio is a better predictor of malignancy than increased nuclear size.

High NC ratio in normal cells

  • Lymphocytes.

Low NC ratio in cancer

High NC ratio in cancer

The classic malignant high NC ratio cell is small cell carcinoma, which is in the large small round cell tumour group.

Atypical cells with a normal NC ratio

See also


  1. Mehrotra, R.; Gupta, A.; Singh, M.; Ibrahim, R. (2006). "Application of cytology and molecular biology in diagnosing premalignant or malignant oral lesions.". Mol Cancer 5: 11. doi:10.1186/1476-4598-5-11. PMID 16556320.
  2. Nissim, M.; Ambrosi, B.; Bernasconi, V.; Giannattasio, G.; Giovanelli, MA.; Bassetti, M.; Vaccari, U.; Moriondo, P. et al. "Bromocriptine treatment of macroprolactinomas: studies on the time course of tumor shrinkage and morphology.". J Endocrinol Invest 5 (6): 409-15. doi:10.1007/BF03350542. PMID 7169515.