Psammoma Bodies in Cervicovaginal Smears: Significance and Practical Implications for Diagnostic Cytopathology

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The traditional association of psammoma bodies with some malignancies of the gynecologic tract raises potentially significant management difficulties when such bodies are identified on routine cervicovaginal smears. This review summarizes the reported cases of psammoma bodies identified on cervicovaginal smears in the world literature (a total of 140 cases, 113 (81%) of which had sufficient clinicopathologic information). Our conclusions are as follows: (1) The finding of psammoma bodies in this setting is distinctly unusual with an incidence of less than 0.001% on consecutively screened smears. (2) On consecutively screened smears, patients with psammoma bodies have an associated malignancy or ovarian borderline tumor 0–22.7% of the time, depending on the series; this figure climbs to 38% when all the case reports and small series in the literature are included. (3) The most reliable predictor of a malignancy in these patients is the finding of cells on the smear that by themselves are diagnostic of malignancy on cytologic grounds. (4) Other factors that, on a purely statistical basis, appear to increase the likelihood of a synchronous or metachronous malignancy or borderline tumor include an older age at diagnosis and/or clinical presentations such as postmenopausal bleeding. (5) When 1 or more psammoma bodies are identified on a cervicovaginal smear, this finding should not be ignored and should generate some clinical investigation to identify its source.

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