Does cytological laboratory hold the responsibility for the low sensitivity of the Pap test in detecting endometrial cancer?

Valerija Miličić, Tereza Solocki Matić, Tea Zelić, Vjenceslav Martinek, Igor Tomašković, Vesna Ramljak


Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecological cancer but there is no economically justified screening method. Although we can detect endometrial cells in the sample using PAP test, many studies show low sensitivity and positive predictive value of PAP test for the diagnosis of endometrial cancer. The goal of this research was to determine significance of PAP test for the diagnostics of endometrial carcinoma. Sensitivity and specificity were analyzed with statistical parameters. VCE (vaginal, cervical, endocervical) smears of patients with histologically proven endometrial carcinoma were re-examined in order to determine the proportion of false negative results for endometrial cancer cells in the VCE samples. Study group consisted of all consecutive patients with PAP test performed at the Department of Clinical Cytology of the University Hospital Osijek from 2002. until the end of 2014. There was one inclusion criteria: subsequent hysterectomy or curettage within the six month after the PAP test, regardless of histological finding. From a total of 263 patients with previous PAP test and histologically proven endometrial cancer, endometrial cancer was cytologicaly diagnosed in 24.7% (including suspicious and positive findings), while 66.2% patients had normal cytological findings. The diagnostic value of PAP test in detection of endometrial cancer was statistically revealed with 25% sensitivity and 99% specificity. To determine false negative rate VCE samples were reviewed for patients with histologically proven endometrial cancer and negative VCE findings. There were a total of five negative results. In one case revision did not changed the original negative diagnosis, but benign endometrial cells, a lot of blood and inadequate cytohormonal status were found. In three out of four reviewed samples there were missed cells of endometrial adenocarcinoma. Review of remaining VCE sample upgraded the diagnosis from negative to suspicious for endometrial cancer. Proportion of error in the detection of endometrial cancer using cytological findings was 3.4% (true false negatives). Negative rate of the cytological findings in the detection of endometrial cancer was 66.2%. PAP test is not a suitable method for detection of endometrial carcinoma due to low sensitivity (25%). The main cause of negative findings in PAP test was lack of diagnostic cells in the sample. 


Cytology, cell biology, histology, Pap test, endometrium, neoplasm, VCE sample, sensitivity, specificity, screening

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