Most of the genetic material inside a cell is found in a small structure called the nucleus. Pathologists can see the nucleus by adding a stain called H&E to the tissue. Hyperchromatic is a word pathologists use to describe a nucleus that looks darker than normal when examined under the microscope. Another word for hyperchromatic is hyperchromasia.
A nucleus can become hyperchromatic for different reasons. Non-cancerous cells often become hyperchromatic when they are injured. Pathologists sometimes describe these cells as reactive. Hyperchromatic cells can also be seen in pre-cancerous conditions such as dysplasia and in many different types of cancers. In these situations, the hyperchromatic cells are used to support the diagnosis.