Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance. Current laboratory practices of participants in the College of American Pathologists Interlaboratory. Comparison Program in Cervicovaginal Cytology.
OBJECTIVE--To evaluate current laboratory practices and rates for atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS), a category of epithelial cell abnormality in the Bethesda System. DESIGN--Questionnaire surveys were mailed in December 1993 and March 1994. SETTING--Cytopathology laboratory participants in the College of American Pathologists Interlaboratory Comparison Program in Cervicovaginal Cytology (PAP). RESULTS--Most responding laboratories (82.5%) limited the use of "atypia" terminology to abnormalities of undetermined significance. Nearly half of the laboratories employed only the term ASCUS for squamous epithelial changes in this category. The median rate of ASCUS in 1993 was 2.8%, with 10% of laboratories reporting rates greater than 9.0%. The median squamous intraepithelial lesion rate was 2.0%, with a median ASCUS-squamous intraepithelial lesion ratio of 1.3. The majority of laboratories qualified a portion of ASCUS cases and issued recommendations for follow-up when appropriate. Fifty-six percent of laboratories surveyed included patients diagnosed with ASCUS in follow-up programs. Laboratories estimated that about 20% (median response) of patients with ASCUS smears had a squamous intraepithelial lesion or equivalent diagnosis made within a year's follow-up. CONCLUSIONS--The ASCUS category is used by the majority of laboratories as recommended by the Bethesda System, but reporting rates vary. The results of this survey and associated surveys provide laboratories with useful benchmark figures for interlaboratory comparison of ASCUS practices.
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