Role of vault cytology in follow-up of hysterectomized women: Results and inferences from a low resource setting

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The study was undertaken to assess the utility of cervico-vaginal/vault cytology in the follow-up of women treated for cervical cancer and benign gynecological conditions. Records of 3,523 cervico-vaginal smears from 2,658 women who underwent hysterectomy and/or radiotherapy or chemotherapy, over a 10-year period were retrieved. Data was collected on type of treatment received, indication for hysterectomy, age of patient, presenting symptoms, stage of tumor, interval since treatment, cytology and biopsy results. The results of cytology versus other parameters were analyzed separately for women treated for cervical cancer and those hysterectomized for benign indications. Malignant cells were detected in 141/1949 (7.2%) follow-up smears from treated cervical cancer cases (140 recurrences and 1 VAIN). Around 92% of recurrences of cervical cancer were detected with in 2 years of follow-up and 75% of these women were symptomatic. Cytology first alerted the clinicians to a recurrence in a quarter of cases. On the other hand, VAIN was detected in 5/1079 (0.46%) vault smears from 997 women hysterectomized for benign gynecologic disease. All these women were asymptomatic and majority (80%) were detected in follow-up smears performed between 3 and 10 years. Vault cytology is an accurate tool to detect local recurrences/VAIN in women treated for cervical cancer or benign gynecological conditions. It may even first alert the clinicians to a possibility of recurrence. However, due to extremely low prevalence of VAIN/vaginal cancer, it seems unwarranted in women hysterectomized for benign indications, especially in resource constrained settings. Diagn. Cytopathol. 2013;41:762–766. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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