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Delayed Diagnoses of Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia and Cancer After Negative Evaluation for Atypical Glandular Cell Pap Smear: Does Age Matter?

Valdini, Anthony F. MD, MS, FACP, FAAFP; Augart, Carolyn L. MD, FAAFP; Olivieri, Michelle BBA

Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease: October 2013 - Volume 17 - Issue 4 - p 390–396
doi: 10.1097/LGT.0b013e31827ec501
Original Articles

Objective At initial evaluation, 1 in 6 women with atypical glandular cells (AGCs) on Pap smear has cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) or cancer. Years later, a greater-than-expected incidence of “significant delayed diagnoses” has been reported in women who had negative initial evaluation results. This study aimed to test the premise that AGC represents a lesser future risk for CIN 2/CIN 3/carcinoma in situ (CIS) and cancer after negative evaluation results in a population diagnosed at a young age (<35 years).

Materials and Methods Cohort study consists of 43,000 community health center patients who had 83,542 Pap smears (1997–2010); 213 were diagnosed with AGC, and 117 met inclusion criteria. Completed evaluation was consistent with American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology guidelines without finding CIN 2/CIN 3/CIS or cancer. Follow-up lasted for longer than 1 year. Categorical data were evaluated with χ2.

Results During the follow-up period that averaged for 85.3 months, the cohort had 4.5 mean Pap smears and reported 46 cytological diagnoses of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, 3 diagnoses of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, and 10 repeated diagnoses of AGCs. Two CIN 2/CIN 3/CIS lesions, 1 cervical cancer, and 1 endometrial intraepithelial neoplasia were confirmed on biopsy. Average age of patients at index Pap smear was 34.2 years (range = 15–64 years). Compared with a published report where the average age at index Pap smear was 41.5 years, our cohort developed a total of 4.3% significant delayed diagnoses versus 10.8% (significant difference, p = .046).

Conclusions During a 7-year follow-up, this cohort of 117 women with AGC and negative initial evaluation findings developed fewer significant delayed diagnoses than expected when compared with an older reported group and had no new extragynecological cancers. Age seems to be a risk factor for delayed diagnoses in patients with AGC.

After negative initial AGC evaluation result, 117 women followed up for 7 years had fewer subsequent diagnoses of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and nongynecological cancer, compared with previously reported older patients.

Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Inc., Lawrence Family Medicine Residency, Lawrence, MA

Reprint requests to: Anthony F. Valdini, MD, MS, FACP, FAAFP, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, Inc., Lawrence Family Medicine Residency, 34 Haverhill St, Lawrence, MA 01841. E-mail:

The authors have declared they have no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2013 by the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology