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Use of the Papanicolaou smear for screening patients for cervical cancer has reduced the mortality of invasive squamous cell cervical cancer. The continuum of cellular abnormalities leading to invasive carcinoma have been carefully studied through cytologic evaluation. Through this process, terminology has changed, and the concept of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia has developed. Improved reporting of the cytologic abnormalities will not only lead to institution of appropriate therapy but also to a reduction in the number of false-negative results of cytologic studies. Improved communication between the cytopathologist and the attending clinician, as recommended by the Bethesda system, attempts to refine the process of appropriate patient care in the detection and treatment of cervical carcinoma and its precursor states.
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