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January 11, 1947

THE VAGINAL SMEARPractical Applications in the Diagnosis of Cancer of the Uterus

Author Affiliations


From the Vincent Memorial Hospital (the gynecological service of the Massachusetts General Hospital Research Laboratory).

JAMA. 1947;133(2):75-78. doi:10.1001/jama.1947.02880020001001

In 1928 Papanicolaou1 demonstrated his ability to make a diagnosis of cancer of the uterus by the observation of single malignant cells cast off from the tumor into the vaginal secretion. This was a cytologic diagnosis rather than a diagnosis made by a study of the architecture of the tissue, such as is done by pathologists. Subsequently, in 1941 and 1943, Papanicolaou and Traut2 published articles and a monograph describing their experiences. The monograph, illustrated by many plates of benign and malignant cells, suggested to the medical profession that their method was a success and should be used. In 1943 Meigs and others,3 confirming the work of Papanicolaou, reported a series of cases studied at the Massachusetts General Hospital and in 1945, in a second article,4 gave convincing evidence of the value of the method. At present 2,749 cases with an error of only 3.2 per

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