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Cancer. 1999 Feb 25;87(1):5-11.

Cytologic features of villoglandular adenocarcinoma of the uterine cervix: comparison with typical endocervical adenocarcinoma with a villoglandular component and papillary serous carcinoma.

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The Department of Cytology, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver Hospital, University of British Columbia, Canada.



To the authors' knowledge, the cytologic features of villoglandular adenocarcinoma (VGC) have been described in very few publications. The malignant cells are difficult to separate from reactive glandular cells and the majority of VGCs are missed on screening cytology.


The cytologic findings of a retrospective study of four cases of pure VGC are described and are contrasted with those of papillary serous adenocarcinoma and typical mucinous endocervical adenocarcinoma with a focal component of VGC.


Although atypical glandular cells of endocervical origin were reported when the smears from the VGC cases were examined in the screening program, none of the cases was recognized as malignant prior to histologic diagnosis. The smears showed many groups of endocervical glandular cells. Important architectural features included large cohesive groups and sheets of cells showing nuclear crowding and loss of the normal honeycomb pattern. True papillary structures comprising stromal cores covered by well polarized columnar cells with a smooth surface were characteristic. It is important to note that a "feathered edge" appearance of the cell groups was absent. The neoplastic cells were mildly atypical, showing a slight increase in the nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio but minimal hyperchromatism. The cytology smears of four cases of typical adenocarcinoma of endocervical type that had a focal VGC pattern showed cell groups with irregular borders and "feathered" edges comprised of distinctly atypical columnar cells with elongated and irregular hyperchromatic nuclei. Free-lying atypical cells and ball-like clusters of atypical cells also were present in the latter cases but not in pure VGCs. The primary high grade papillary serous adenocarcinomas of the cervix exhibited extreme cytologic atypia that was interpreted readily as malignant.


The diagnosis of VGC on cytology smears often is missed. Papillary fragments, nuclear crowding, and subtle atypia may suggest the diagnosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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