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Acta Cytol. 1990 Nov-Dec;34(6):785-8.

Goblet-like cells in atrophic vaginal smears and their histologic correlation. Possible confusion with endocervical cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital, Japan.


The occurrence and origin of goblet-like cells seen between clusters of parabasal cells in atrophic vaginal smears were investigated. The goblet-like cells were cytologically identified in the vaginal smears from 23 (19.2%) of 120 patients whose smears showed an atrophic pattern, but without any inflammatory, dysplastic or malignant changes. Histologically, these cells were found in sections from 6 (18.8%) of 32 elderly women with atrophic vaginal epithelium. The goblet-like cells were situated among the squamous cells of the upper layer of the atrophic squamous epithelium from the vagina to the portio. These goblet-like cells in atrophic smears were initially misinterpreted as endocervical cells, which are regarded as a marker of smear adequacy in the cytologic screening for cancer of the uterine cervix. The correct interpretation of these goblet-like cells in smears from postmenopausal and elderly women is thus obviously important in assessing the adequacy of the sample for the detection of abnormal cells.

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