Author(s): Lee KR, Minter LJ, Granter SR
The sensitivity of cervical smears for adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS) is not known, nor is it known whether false-negative smears are due to sampling or to screening or interpretive errors. In 16 of 34 patients with AIS, 38 negative smears were reported 2 weeks to 7 years before biopsy. Thirty-one of these negative smears were rescreened, and 17 (55%) were retrospectively diagnosed as abnormal. Ten of the 17 had numerous well-preserved AIS cells: 5 with very small, crowded AIS cells, possibly originally mistaken for endometrial cells, and 5 with large groups in which AIS cells resembled reactive endocervical cells. Four smears were confirmed sampling errors. The sensitivity of cervical smears for AIS was 55% to 72%. Improved sampling of the endocervical canal offers cytologists the opportunity to diagnose AIS. This study demonstrates that this opportunity may not be fully exploited. Small "endometrioid" AIS cells and AIS cells resembling reactive endocervical cells may be mistaken for benign cells, thus decreasing sensitivity.