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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Smears are classified by their nuclear abnormality:

  • unsatisfactory - too few cells or slide processed incorrectly
  • inflammatory / inconclusive / borderline - the cells may be distorted by the effects of:
    • infection - HPV, HSV, trichomoniasis, candidiasis. HPV is a commensal in 80% of women but also a risk factor for neoplastic change, especially subtypes 16 and 18
    • sexual intercourse within the previous 48 hours
    • cervical erosion
    • underlying CIN or malignancy
  • normal
  • mild dyskaryosis - corresponds to CIN 1; nucleus fills less than two thirds of the cell
  • moderate dyskaryosis - corresponds to CIN 2; nucleus fills more than two thirds of the cell;
  • severe dyskaryosis - corresponds to CIN 3; nucleus fills nearly the entire cell

A typical series might show:

  • normal - more than 90%
  • unsatisfactory or inflammatory - 3-5%
  • mild dyskaryosis or HPV - 3-5%
  • moderate or severe dyskaryosis - 1-3%

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