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Cervical and vaginal cytology: Interpretation of results (Pap test report)

Christopher P Crum, MD
Warner K Huh, MD
Section Editor
Barbara Goff, MD
Deputy Editor
Sandy J Falk, MD, FACOG


Cervical cytology became the standard screening test for cervical cancer and premalignant cervical lesions with the introduction of the Papanicolaou (Pap) smear in 1941 [1]. Liquid-based, thin-layer preparation of cervical cytology specimens was a subsequent modification in technique. Terminology for reporting cervical cytology was standardized by the Bethesda System in 1988 [2]. This system has been revised several times, and the current system was developed in 2014 (table 1) [3-6]. Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing has now been incorporated into cervical cancer screening. (See "Screening for cervical cancer" and "Cervical cancer screening tests: Techniques for cervical cytology and human papillomavirus testing".)

The cervical cytology report is presented in a standard format. Interpretation of cervical cytology results will be reviewed here. Cervical cancer screening strategies and techniques, as well as the follow-up of abnormal cytology results and treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), are reviewed separately:

(See "Screening for cervical cancer".)

(See "Cervical cancer screening tests: Techniques for cervical cytology and human papillomavirus testing".)

(See "Cervical cytology: Evaluation of atypical squamous cells (ASC-US and ASC-H)".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 15, 2017.
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