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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Jun;182(6):1278-82.

The significance of atypical glandular cells on routine cervical cytologic testing in a community-based population.

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Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los angeles, CA 90048, USA.



We sought to determine the follow-up rate of women with glandular atypia on routine Papanicolaou smears in a community-based population and to describe the associated pathologic findings.


Over a 12-month period, all patients with Papanicolaou smears with atypical glandular cells of undetermined significance were reviewed for demographic and clinical characteristics and followed up for a period of 12 to 24 months.


Of the 48,890 Papanicolaou smears examined, 141 (0.29%) were diagnosed with atypical glandular cells of undetermined significance. Of these, 22 (17.6%) had no record of any subsequent investigation, and only 64 (51.2%) were monitored with both colposcopy and biopsy. Of the 64 biopsy specimens, 39 (60.9%) were positive for disease. Twenty-six (66.7%) were of squamous origin, with the most advanced lesion being cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 3. An additional patient had a combined cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma in situ lesion. Four (10.3%) additional patients had glandular cervical lesions, 2 benign polyps and 2 adenocarcinoma in situ lesions. Seven (17.9%) patients had endometrial lesions (benign polyps, 2 patients; complex atypical endometrial hyperplasia, 1 patient; and endometrial carcinoma, 4 patients). One patient had ovarian cystadenocarcinoma. Postmenopausal women were 5 times more likely to have a glandular lesion. Women with abnormal vaginal bleeding were also more likely to have a glandular lesion. These same patient groups were also more likely to have endometrial disease.


The incidence of atypical glandular cells of undetermined significance on Papanicolaou smears in this community-based population was 0.29%, which is consistent with estimates from institution-based populations. Nearly 50% of women studied were not followed up with tissue biopsy. Of those with a tissue biopsy, 61% had positive findings, including 5 with cancer. Although postmenopausal status and abnormal vaginal bleeding were associated with endometrial or glandular disease, studies of larger patient populations should be conducted to examine potential risk factors for these conditions.

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