Rate of Pathology From Atypical Glandular Cell Pap Tests Classified by the Bethesda 2001 Nomenclature

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To estimate the risk of significant pathology from atypical glandular cell (AGC) Pap tests classified by the 2001 Bethesda system and to assess potential differences in AGC management practices between physician specialties.


A chart study was conducted to assess outcomes from AGC Pap tests diagnosed during 2001–2005.


One hundred thirty-one AGC Pap tests were identified from 84,748 Pap tests. The incidence of AGC was 0.15%. Thirty-nine AGC Pap tests (30%) were excluded from analysis, leaving 92 AGC Pap tests from 82 patients available for review. Thirty-one of 82 women (38%) had significant pathology. Seventeen women (21%) had preinvasive disease: cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 or 3, adenocarcinoma in situ and endometrial hyperplasia, whereas 14 women (17%) had invasive adenocarcinomas of the endometrium, cervix, ovary, and rectum. Women who were aged 40 years or younger differed significantly from women aged older than 40 years with regard to final pathology (P = .002). Specifically, they were more likely to have preinvasive disease and less likely to have invasive carcinoma. Recommended management for AGC includes colposcopy with or without biopsy, endocervical curettage, and endometrial biopsy. Sixty-three of 82 (77%) women were managed by recommended guidelines, and there was a statistically significant difference in physician adherence when comparing gynecologists to primary care physicians (87% compared with 50%, P < .001).


Atypical glandular cell cytology confers a risk (38%) of either preinvasive disease or carcinoma, with the risk of carcinoma increasing significantly for women aged older than 40. Adherence to recommended AGC management guidelines is crucial to identify underlying malignancies.



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