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The histological significance of atypical glandular cells on cervical cytology: Experience at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

Lance D Hoffman, Hue-Tsi Wu

Abstract


Background. Atypical glandular cells (AGC) identified on Pap tests may be markers for potentially significant pathology.

Objectives. Primarily, to correlate AGC findings at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH, Cape Town, South Africa) with subsequent histological investigations and attempt to identify predictors of pathology relevant to the clinical management of women with a cytological diagnosis of AGC. Secondly, to compare the GSH data with data from similar international studies.

Methods. Records of AGC Pap tests were retrieved from the laboratory database in the anatomical pathology laboratory at GSH and clinically relevant information was summarised based on the available information. Standard descriptive statistics were used to summarise the study data, and Fisher’s exact test was used to compare categorical outcomes, where possible.

Results. Of the 237 women with a cytological diagnosis of AGC and who had subsequent histological diagnoses, 120 (50.6%) had significant pathology (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) 2 or worse). Significant cervical pathology was most common in women aged <50 years, while significant endometrial pathology predominated in women aged ≥50 years. The results of the GSH study were largely consistent with international findings, but the risk of malignancy was six times higher in the GSH population than in a comparable international group.

Conclusion. AGC identified on Pap tests may be markers for potentially significant pathology. Human papillomavirus DNA testing is recommended for younger women diagnosed with AGC to reduce invasive investigations and minimise expenses in a resource-poor setting.


Authors' affiliations

Lance D Hoffman, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Hue-Tsi Wu, Division of Anatomical Pathology, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa; South African Medical Research Council Gynaecological Cancer Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa; D7 Anatomical Pathology Laboratory, Groote Schuur Hospital/National Health Laboratory Service, Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

Atypical glandular cells; AGC

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2016;106(9):907-911. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i9.10472

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-12-15
Date published: 2016-08-04

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