Histologic findings from the cervix among older women with abnormal cervical cytology

L. Stewart Massad*, Kian Behbakht, Yvonne C. Collins, Helen E. Cejtin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objective. The aim of this study was to determine rates of cervical neoplasia among women at least 50 years of age referred for colposcopy after abnormal cytology and to compare these to younger women. Methods. From a prospectively accrued database of 2825 women undergoing colposcopy in the gynecology clinic of an urban public hospital, women at least 50 years of age with a known cytologic abnormality were selected for retrospective analysis. Demographic and medical information collected at colposcopy and subsequent histology was reviewed. Cytology results were based on the Bethesda system, and histology was reported as grades of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). Statistical analysis was by t test, χ2 test, and Mann-Whitney U test. Results. Among 325 women at least age 50, cervical histologic results were benign or atypical for 147 (45%), CIN1 for 28 (9%), CIN2 for 21 (6%), CIN3 for 49 (15%), cancer for 11 (3%), and ungraded dysplasia for 7 (2%), with no biopsy performed for 62 (19%) women. Symptoms were more common among women with cancer (6/11 or 55%) than those without (62/263 or 21%, P = 0.01). Negative histology (80/231 or 35%), CIN3 (49/231 or 21%), and cancer (9/231 or 4%) were more common among older than younger women (287/1403 or 20%, 199/1403 or 14%, and 11/1403 or 1%, respectively), while atypia (438/1403 or 31%), CIN1 (321/1403 or 23%), and CIN2 (147/1403 or 10%) were more common among younger than older women (53/231 or 23%, 23/231 or 10%, and 17/231 or 7%, respectively, P < 0.04). Differences in the distribution of cervical histology results remained significant among women with ASCUS (P = 0.001) but not those with LSIL (P > 0.9), HSIL (P > 0.07), or cancer (P > 0.4). Conclusion. Most older women are referred for colposcopy with lesser grades of abnormality, but cervical cancers are found across all cytologic grades and were more common in symptomatic women. Compared to younger women with abnormal cytology, women at least 50 years of age with ASCUS had higher rates of negative evaluations and high grade but not low- or mid-grade lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-344
Number of pages5
JournalGynecologic oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003


  • Aging and cancer
  • Cancer screening
  • Cervical cancer
  • Cervical cytology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Oncology


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