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Acta Cytol. 1999 Nov-Dec;43(6):1027-33.

Effects of chemotherapy and tamoxifen on cervical and vaginal smears in bone marrow transplant recipients.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.



To clarify the importance of squamous and glandular atypia in the genital tracts of women undergoing high-dose chemotherapy and receiving tamoxifen.


The pathology records of 769 female bone marrow transplant recipients from a five-year period at Duke University Medical Center were reviewed. One hundred fifteen cervicovaginal smears from 78 patients were available for evaluation; of these, 85 smears from 61 patients were selected. Only cases from patients with a complete medical history, including menopausal status and therapeutic regimen, were included in this study. Forty-five cases were from patients treated with chemotherapy alone, and 40 were from patients treated with a combination of chemotherapy and tamoxifen.


A normal cellular pattern was the most common finding. Reactive cellular changes associated with therapy effect were identified in 21% of cases. In patients treated with chemotherapy alone, an atrophic smear pattern in a premenopausal woman was identified in 27% of cases. Squamous epithelial cell abnormalities were identified in approximately the same proportion of patients whether they received chemotherapy alone or with tamoxifen. Glandular changes were uncommon.


The most common finding was a normal smear pattern. An atrophic smear was more commonly found in patients treated with chemotherapy alone than in those treated with both chemotherapy and tamoxifen. Squamous epithelial cell abnormalities are most probably independent of treatment effect. Glandular changes were rare in patients treated with chemotherapy, alone or in combination with tamoxifen.

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