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Article
February 2, 1957

THE VALUE OF EXFOLIATIVE CYTOLOGY

JAMA. 1957;163(5):384. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02970400056023

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Abstract

To the Editor:—  The cytological examination of vaginal secretions initiated by Papanicolaou and Traut has become a routine laboratory procedure in many places. This is offered as a community service in several localities, though considerable doubt exists about the wisdom of such a procedure unless it is combined with thorough clinical examination. Most positive smears come from symptomatic patients who have consulted the physician because of spotting, discharge, or frank vaginal bleeding. In such cases the finding of cancer cells should not be a complete surprise. It is the small group of apparently asymptomatic patients from whom positive smears are discovered that makes the endless hours of reading negative smears seem less of a waste. One source of our work comes from the outpatient department, which sends us smears for routine examination on many old patients and every new patient admitted. A vaginal smear on a new patient, 39 years

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