Dr. Mearl F. Stanton, 57, a cancer researcher and pathologist with the National Institutes of Health since 1957, died Sunday at his home in Chevy Chase. He had the Shy-Drager sydrome, a neuropathic disorder.

In addition to his research work with NIH'S National Cancer Institute, Dr. Stanton was editor-in-chief of Journal of the National Cancer Institute from 1967 to 1974. He also had been the editor since 1969 of the monograph series published by the International Agency for Cancer Research and the World Health Organization.

He had served on a number of committees and boards at the NCI, including the Committee on Diagnosis and Treatment, the Smoking and Health Review Board and the NCI Fellowship Review Board.

As a researcher, Dr. Stanton was known for his studies on fiber carcinogenesis. In 1969 he published a report describing a method for evaluating the cancer-causing potential fibers, such as asbestos, that were implanted in the lungs of rats.

Dr. Stanton also helped develop tests to determine the lung carcinogenicity of cigarette tars. At the time of his death, he was working on experiments to identify cancer-causing substances in large air samples.

He also conducted studies that demonstrated that some small aquarium fish can be used as highly sensitive indicators of chemicals causing liver cancer. He helped establish the Registry of Tumors in Lower Animals at the Smithsonian Institution and also the Registry of Experimental Cancers at NCI.

Dr. Stanton was a native of Staunton, Ill., and a 1948 graduate of St. Louis University's medical school. He was an instructor and fellow in pathology at St. Louis University before coming to this area in 1955. He worked at the Army Chemical Center before joining NIH.

He served in the Army during World War II. He remained in the reserves and was a colonel at the time of his retirement for reasons of health.

Survivors include his wife, the former Marge Hartman, a son, Michael, and a daughter, Anne, all of Chevy Chase, and two other daughters, Hope of Bethesda, and Lynn, of Takoma Park.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions either to the Patient Emergency Fund at the National Institutes of Health or to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation in New York City.