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April 14, 1962

Positive Cancer Smears in Teenage Girls—A Warning

Author Affiliations

245 Pond Ave., Brookline 46, Mass.

JAMA. 1962;180(2):177. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050150083022

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To the Editor:—  I wish to protest the article "Positive Cancer Smears in Teenage Girls" by J. H. Ferguson (JAMA178:365 [Oct. 28] 1961). My first attention was drawn to this by an article in the New York Times, a tribute to its "news value." I consider the article as presented, not in the best interest of medical reporting.The article, though titled as above, deals chiefly with patients having "positive smears" and are in fact limited to a group in whom pregnancies were almost the rule, sexual promiscuity, and infection common.The practice of obtaining vaginal smears in young pregnant women under 20 years of age is a valuable one, but the smears must be interpreted with great caution and the diagnostic and therapeutic procedures must be approached conservatively. In this series, there would appear to be considerable looseness in grading the vaginal smears, since only 3 of

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